updated 05:34 am EST, Fri February 14, 2014
Rule change to help prevent pilot distraction by mobile devices
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has made two technology-related decisions this week, with both changes affecting pilots rather than passengers. At the same time as introducing new rules limiting the equipment brought into the cockpit, the FAA has given the green light to pilots replacing their bag of flight manuals and documents with the Microsoft Surface 2.
The rule change will prohibit flight crew from "using a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated." While recent electronics usage changes for passengers were made because the potential for interference with the craft was minimal, the changes here are more to remove distractions, namely ensuring "certain non-essential activities do not contribute to the challenge of task management on the flight deck or a loss of situational awareness due to attention to non-essential tasks." The rule is set to be enforced in two months time.
The Surface 2 is now on the FAA's list of devices approved to serve as Electronic Flight Bags (EFB), the Microsoft Surface Blog reveals. Much like the iPad, the authorization for Class 1 EFB from the FAA allows the Surface 2 to be used at all phases of flight, and allowing airlines to receive authorization from the FAA to quickly roll out the device to pilots at a much faster rate. Replacing the existing flight bags with electronic versions removes around 30 to 40 pounds of weight from the aircraft, saving fuel and printing costs for the airlines.