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Mon, Apr 26, 2010

FAA Calls On Airlines To Limit Cockpit Distractions

InFO Document Says Carriers Should Address The Issue Through Training

There would seem to be a lot of common sense involved in this, but as is often the case, the actions of a few make things more difficult for everyone. The FAA issued an InFO on Monday calling on air carrier operators to create and enforce policies that will limit distractions in the cockpit, and keep pilots focused on transporting passengers safely. "There is no room for distraction when your job is to get people safely to their destinations," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The traveling public expects professional pilots to focus on flying and on safety at all times."

The Information for Operators (InFO) guidance reminds crewmembers and air carriers that any cockpit distraction that diverts attention from required duties can "constitute a safety risk."  This includes the use of personal electronic devices for activities unrelated to flight. Last October the pilots of Northwest 188 over-flew their destination by 150 miles because they were using their laptop computers for personal activities and lost situational awareness.

"Every aviation professional needs to take the issue of distractions in the cockpit seriously," said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "And when there are two or more professionals on the flight deck, they must hold each other to the highest safety standards. Allowing distractions is unacceptable."

The FAA's Sterile Cockpit Rule prohibits pilots from engaging in any type of distracting behavior during critical phases of flight, including take-off and landing.

In this InFO, the FAA asks air carriers to address the issue of distraction through their crew training programs and to create a safety culture to control cockpit distractions. As technology advances, laptops and other devices are becoming valuable tools for pilots to use in their routine duties.  But they must only be used in the cockpit if they assist pilots in safely operating an aircraft.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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