The FAA doesn't want pilots to use phones, tablets, or laptops while flying airplanes. It makes perfect sense, but according to rules that have been in the books since 1981, use of such devices was allowed so long as pilots waited until the plane was above 10,000 feet. If a new proposal from the FAA is passed, however, crew members in the cockpit won't be allowed to check email, browse the web, text, game, or perform any other personal activity on their device during any point of the flight. The proposed rule change does specify that the rule does not apply to the use of such devices "for a purpose directly related to the operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications." That clause is a nod to the electronic flight bags that airlines like United and Alaska Airlines have begun deploying to crews to replace the required paper manuals of old, which weighed up to 40 pounds. Should the proposal pass, it would bring the FAA's regulations in step with a federal law ratified last year that prohibited the use of personal electronics on the flight deck.
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