FAA Directive Promotes 'Culture of Safety'

A communication from the FAA addressed the issue of cockpit distractions caused by use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) such as laptop computers and multifunction mobile phones. The document opened with three instances of PEDs creating dangerous distractions — beginning with the now infamous Northwest Airlines flight that overflew its destination airport by 150 miles. The directive stopped short of suggesting new rules or penalties for misuse of PEDs, but called upon crewmembers to address their "responsibility to guard against distractions on the flight deck." The text also called out airline management to "create a culture of safety that clearly establishes guidance. Expectations and requirements to control cockpit distractions, including use of PEDs, during flight operations." Further, the FAA calls upon airlines' directors of operations and directors of safety to review and reinforce the policies. Training directors should also address the company policies on cockpit distractions, according to the FAA. And finally, the letter admonished crewmembers, themselves, to evaluate their personal practices regarding PEDs. Initial calls to ban cell phones and laptop computers from airline cockpits were countered with recognition that pilots often use their PEDs in the course of their duties. The FAA wrote, "While PEDs can be valuable tools in aviation operations, crewmembers cannot permit PEDs to distract them from focusing on duties and responsibilities related to the flight."