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FAA Issues Final Part 121 Rule on Personal Use of Electronic Devices

NBAA Safety Committee Applauds Promotion of Safety Best Practices

March 4, 2014

The FAA has issued a final rule, effective April 14, which prohibits FAR Part 121 flight crews from using “a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated.”

The FAA said it was amending Part 121 to conform to existing law. The agency noted that the rule is “intended to ensure that certain non-essential activities do not contribute to the challenge of task management on the flight deck or a loss of situational awareness due to attention to non-essential tasks.”

The final rule “does not prohibit the use of personal wireless communications devices or laptop computers if the purpose is directly related to operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications and the use is in accordance with air carrier procedures approved by the administrator,” according to the agency.

Review the final rule: Prohibition on Personal Use of Electronic Devices on the Flight Deck.

The FAA’s rule does not directly impact business aircraft operations. However, NBAA and its Safety Committee remain strong advocates for better management of personal distractions and the elimination or reduction of associated risks.

Although the National Transportation Safety Board urged the FAA to expand the proposed rule to include Part 135 and Part 91 subpart K operations, the FAA said that this was outside the scope of the final rule and that comments had not been solicited on expanding the rule.

“We support a greater commitment to operational discipline and adherence to a high degree of business aviation safety standards,” said NBAA Operations Specialist Peter Korns. “Minimizing or restricting non-essential personal use of electronic devices during aircraft operations is not only prudent, but a mark of true professionalism and a sound safety culture.”