The FAA may have warmed up to passengers’ use of personal electronic devices throughout all stages of the flight, meaning that you can continue to play Flappy Bird from gate to gate, its clamping down on pilots’ personal use of such electronic devices in the cockpit, in-flight. The new rules build up on the “sterile cockpit” FAA rule from 1981, which makes it obligatory for pilots to refrain from non-essential activities in-flight. Once the new rules go in effect within two months, pilots won’t be allowed to use laptops, tablets, cell phones and other similar devices for personal use.
According to the Federal Aviation Authority, these new rules are in line with the mandate given to the body by Congress, which aims to reduce and prevent pilot distraction in the cockpit which might be caused by personal use of such devices. There’s precedent to support this, back in 2009 a Northwest Airlines flight missed its airport by 150 miles because pilots were busy on their laptops. Even though pilots won’t be allowed to touch electronic devices for personal use, the FAA allows them to use tablets or laptops that are essential to operating the aircraft. Airlines are gradually making the shift from paper flight bags to tablets, which not only reduces the load the pilots have to carry, but also result in fuel savings in the long run.