Dorgan, Klobuchar ntroduce bill to ban use of wireless devices in airline cockpitsU.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation Thursday to prohibit the use of personal wireless communication devices by the flight crew while operating commercial aircraft.
U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced legislation Thursday to prohibit the use of personal wireless communication devices by the flight crew while operating commercial aircraft.
Dorgan, who chairs the Aviation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Klobuchar, a Commerce Committee member, introduced the legislation in response to the recent Northwest Airlines incident in which pilots claimed they were distracted by working on their computers and did not respond to radio calls for 91 minutes. The plane flew 150 miles past its destination.
The proposed legislation specifically prohibits the use of personal wireless communication devices and personal laptop computers by the flight crew during operation of the aircraft. The bill permits use of personal electronic devices to assist in the operation of the aircraft or for emergency, safety or employment-related communication.
Most airlines prohibit the use of personal computers, but it is not enforceable at the federal level. This legislation allows the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to suspend or revoke an airman’s certificate for a violation or impose a civil penalty of up to $25,000 against an air carrier or up to $1,100 against an individual pilot. It instructs the FAA to issue a final rule implementing this provision within one year, and gives the FAA appropriate discretion to address issues related to changing technology or identifying any potential unintended consequences of the ban. “Our FAA rules must adapt to the changing times,” said Dorgan. “The passengers in the back of the plane, who are relying on those pilots to get them to their destination safely, need to know that those flying the plane are not distracted by the personal use of electronic devices. Most major air carriers have already recognized this problem and have rules prohibiting it, but this legislation gives the FAA the ability to enforce those rules with penalties.”
“Passengers should not have to worry about whether the pilots are flying the plane or checking their laptops,” said Klobuchar. “In their jobs, there is nothing more important than the safety of airline passengers -this legislation will allow the FAA to make sure distractions are removed from the cockpit and increase the safety of our air carriers.”