The US Federal Aviation Administration is proposing to ban pilots from using personal wireless devices in the cockpit, although iPads or laptops that pilots use for work would still be allowed.
Since 1981 the FAA has prohibited any activity while taxiing, taking off or landing that could distract pilots from their duties, under what is called a ''sterile cockpit'' policy when planes are below an altitude of 3000 metres. The new proposal would extend the prohibition against personal electronics to the entire flight.
''It's like driving: Don't text while you're driving,'' says John Cox, a retired airline captain with US Airways who runs his own aviation consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.
The FAA says several incidents prompted the proposal, including one in 2009 when two Northwest Airlines pilots using personal laptops flew 240 kilometres past their destination of Minneapolis.