FAA proposal would prohibit personal wireless devices in the cockpit for pilots

I've always thought that allowing pilots to use electronic devices like iPads in the cockpit was a bit unfair to passengers. If it's safe enough for the pilots to use an iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight, it should be safe enough for passengers to do the same thing I would think. I've always wondered if pilots use their own personal electronic devices in the cockpit, and apparently, they do.

The FAA is proposing a new rule that would prohibit pilots from using their personal wireless devices in the cockpit. The FAA is specific that the proposed rule would continue to allow iPads and laptops pilots use for work in the cockpit. Some major airlines have begun issuing iPads to pilots with flight manuals and other required reading materials rather than printed versions of the same material.

The reason for this move has to do with reducing weight and saving fuel. The FAA has had a rule the books since 1981 that prohibits pilots from using anything during taxi, takeoff, or landing that could distract them from their duty. That rule is in effect when aircraft are under 10,000 feet.

The new FAA proposal would extend the rule prohibiting personal electronic devices in the cockpit during the entire flight. The proposal from the FAA spans 19 pages and the goal is to reportedly reduce any distractions for the pilots to allow them to better pay attention to air traffic control, weather, environmental hazards, another things.

Retired pilot John Cox runs an aviation consulting company called Safety Operating Systems. He says that the FAA's proposal is similar to the don't text while you're driving rules in effect in many states. You would think not using electronic devices that could distract you if you're a pilot flying aircraft would be a no-brainer. However, two Northwest Airlines pilots who were using personal laptops accidentally flew 150 miles past their destination in 2009.

[via USA Today]