FAA Rule Bans Personal Electronics in the Cockpit

While the Federal Aviation Authority recently changed its regulations to allow passengers to use gadgets more freely, it's now done exactly the opposite in the cockpit: pilots won't be able to use personal electronics during flights. Phew?

The The Wall Street Journal reports that while cell phones, tablets or computers can be used in the cockpit for professional duties, they won't be allowed for "personal use." The new rule goes into effect in two months.

A tweaked version of a 1981 rule often referred to as the "sterile cockpit," the idea is to keep "the environment on the flight deck... free from potentially dangerous distractions." Private electronics were previously covered by that rule below 10,000 feet, but not above it. Now, the FAA's policy will ban use during all phases of flight.

The change was apparently inspired by a number of incidents—including a Northwest Airlines flight that overshot its destination by 150 miles in 2009 because pilots were distracted by their computer. Sounds like a good idea, then. [FAA via Wall Street Journal via Verge]

Image by Derrick Coetzee under Creative Commons license