The FAA issued a final rule, effective April 14, that prohibits airline pilots from using personal electronic devices (PEDs) while flying. This rule is a result of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Section 307 of the Act makes it “unlawful for a flight crewmember of an aircraft used to provide air transportation under Part 121…to use a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer while at the flight crewmember’s duty station on the flight deck of such an aircraft while the aircraft is being operated.” While the FAA says that its sterile cockpit rules essentially prohibit PED use by flight crew during ground operations and through 10,000 feet, the new rule applies those restrictions to all flight operations.
The new PED rule applies only to Part 121 flight crews, but the NTSB wants it to apply to Part 135 and 91K (fractional) operations as well. The FAA said it “may address Part 135 and Part 91 Subpart K operations in future rulemaking.” The new rule does not “apply to the use of a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for a purpose directly related to the operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications.”