The new Sterile Cockpit Rule is designed to stop pilots getting distracted by laptops, telephones or music players during a flight. The case was sparked when it was revealed that last October the pilots of Northwest 188 over-flew their destination by 150 miles because they were using their laptop computers for personal activities and "lost situational awareness."
"There is no room for distraction when your job is to get people safely to their destinations," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
"The travelling public expects professional pilots to focus on flying and on safety at all times."
However, the devil is in the details. The new rule insists that pilots must not be using any kind of personal electronic device during critical junctures, defined as during takeoff and landing. Such a rule wouldn't have stopped the overflight by Northwest's pilots and, while the Sleuth is no expert on flying, it's hard to imagine any pilot whipping out the netbook for a quick round of Minesweeper while coming in to land.
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