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FAA seeks limits on air distractions

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood blogs today about the dangers of distractions in airline cockpits.

LaHood says the FAA will release guidance today "that asks the airlines to address distraction through crew training programs. It also asks that airlines create a safety culture to control cockpit distractions."

LaHood has made the campaign against distracted driving in cars, tractor-trailers and trains one of the centerpieces of his tenure in office. This week he's even partnering with Oprah Winfrey to promote April 30 as a "No Phone Zone Day."

However, he says "the safety consequences of operator distraction in those vehicles pale in comparison to those of a commercial airliner."

"It's really very simple," he writers, "engaging in tasks not directly related to required flight duties, including using personal electronic devices, constitutes a safety risk.

The FAA already prohibits pilots "from engaging in any type of distracting behavior during critical phases of flight," LaHood wrote.

One of the most-recent examples of cockpit distraction occurred last fall when two pilots of a Northwest Airlines jet overshot a Minneapolis airport by 150 miles. The pilots, whose licenses were revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration, told the National Transportation Safety Board they were distracted by their use of laptops.

What do you think? E-mail us at transportation@washpost.com or post a comment below.


By Michael Bolden  |  April 26, 2010; 9:12 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Airports , Transportation Politics  
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