Senate Bill Seeks Laptop Ban in Part 121 Cockpits

November 10, 2009, 8:14 AM

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and four cosponsors have introduced S.2745 to ban the use of personal wireless communications devices or laptop computers in Part 121 cockpits, but general aviation would not be affected. Also, the bill would not apply to such devices if used for a purpose directly related to operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related or employment-related communications, in accordance with procedures established by the air carrier or the FAA. Within 30 days of enactment, the DOT Secretary would begin rulemaking and issue a final rule within one year of the enactment. The bill is in response to an incident October 21 when the pilots of Northwest Flight 188 overshot Minneapolis by 150 miles and failed to communicate with anyone on the ground for 91 minutes because they claimed they were distracted by their laptops. Before S.2745 was introduced, NBAA expressed concern that the bill could restrict laptops, EFBs, cellphones and other electronic devices, which it said are critical to operational and safety needs.

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