[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 29 (Wednesday, February 12, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 8257-8263]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-02991]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 121

[Docket No. FAA-2012-0929; Amdt. No. 121-369]
RIN 2120-AJ17


Prohibition on Personal Use of Electronic Devices on the Flight 
Deck

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule will prohibit flightcrew members in operations 
under part 121 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. This rule, which 
conforms FAA regulations with legislation, is intended to ensure that 
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.

DATES: Effective April 14, 2014.

ADDRESSES: For information on where to obtain copies of rulemaking 
documents and other information related to this final rule, see the 
``How To Obtain Additional Information'' section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this final rule, contact Nancy Lauck Claussen, Air Transportation 
Division (AFS-200), Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation 
Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; 
telephone (202) 267-8166; email Nancy.L.Claussen@faa.gov.
    For legal questions concerning this action, contact Nancy Sanchez, 
Office of the Chief Counsel, Regulations Division, AGC-200, Federal 
Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 
20591; telephone (202) 267-3073; email Nancy.Sanchez@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in 
Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106, describes 
the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation 
Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.
    This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 49 
U.S.C. 44701(a)(5), which requires the Administrator to promulgate 
regulations and minimum standards for other practices, methods, and 
procedures necessary for safety in air commerce and national security, 
and 49 U.S.C. 44732, which prohibits the personal use of electronic 
devices on the flight deck by flightcrew members. Additionally, this 
rule fulfills a statutory mandate found in Section 307 of Public Law 
112-95, The Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform 
Act of 2012.

Table of Contents

I. Overview of Final Rule
II. Background
    A. Related Rule
    B. Statement of the Problem
    C. National Transportation Safety Board Recommendations
    D. Summary of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
    E. General Overview of Comments
III. Discussion of Public Comments and Final Rule
    A. Requirements
    B. Current Air Carrier Programs
    C. Operational Timeframes for Prohibition
IV. Regulatory Notices and Analyses
    A. Regulatory Evaluation
    B. Regulatory Flexibility Determination
    C. International Trade Impact Assessment
    D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment
    E. Paperwork Reduction Act
    F. International Compatibility and Cooperation
    G. Environmental Analysis
V. Executive Order Determinations
    A. Executive Order 12866 and 13563
    B. Executive Order 13132, Federalism
    C. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect 
Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use
VI. How to Obtain Additional Information
    A. Rulemaking Documents
    B. Comments Submitted to the Docket
    C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

I. Overview of Final Rule

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform 
Act of 2012 (the Act) was enacted on February 14, 2012. Section 307 of 
the Act, Prohibition on Personal Use of Electronic Devices on the 
Flight Deck, makes it ``unlawful for a flight crewmember of an aircraft 
used to provide air transportation under part 121 of title 14, Code of 
Federal Regulations, to use a personal wireless communications device 
or laptop computer while at the flight crewmember's duty station on the 
flight deck of such an aircraft while the aircraft is being operated.'' 
The legislation also states that this prohibition does not apply to the 
use of a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for 
a purpose directly related to operation of the aircraft, or for 
emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications, in 
accordance with procedures established by the air carrier and the FAA.
    The FAA is amending part 121 to conform to this legislation. The 
FAA is amending Sec.  121.542 to add language to prohibit flightcrew 
members operating under part 121 from using a personal wireless 
communications device or a laptop computer for personal use while at 
their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being 
operated. The amended regulatory language defines what is considered to 
be a personal wireless communications device. The regulatory language 
also clarifies that the prohibition on use of a personal wireless 
communications device or laptop computer does not apply to the use of a 
personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for a 
purpose directly related to the operation of the aircraft, or for 
emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications, in 
accordance with procedures established by the air carrier and approved 
by the FAA. The amended regulatory language also uses the term ``flight 
crewmember'' to conform with other paragraphs in amended Sec.  121.542. 
However, the preamble to this final rule, as well as all recent FAA 
rulemakings, uses the term ``flightcrew member'' to conform with the 
definition contained in Sec.  1.1; therefore, these terms are used 
interchangeably.

[[Page 8258]]

II. Background

A. Related Rule

    In 1981, the FAA published the Elimination of Duties and Activities 
of Flight Crewmembers Not Required for the Safe Operation of Aircraft 
Final Rule.\1\ This rule, better known as the ``Sterile Cockpit'' rule, 
required air carriers operating under parts 121 and 135, as well as 
flightcrew members in those operations, to ensure that the environment 
on the flight deck was free from potentially dangerous distractions. 
The 1981 final rule states that air carriers shall not require their 
flightcrew members to perform non-safety related duties during critical 
phases of flight and that flightcrew members shall not conduct non-
safety related activities which could cause distractions on the flight 
deck during critical phases of flight.
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    \1\ 46 FR 5500 (Jan. 19, 1981).
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    The 1981 rule further states that the pilot-in-command (PIC) shall 
not permit any activity during a critical phase of flight which would 
distract flightcrew members from the performance of their duties. This 
in effect extends the sterile cockpit provisions to other crewmembers, 
such as flight attendants. The 1981 rule also defines the critical 
phases of flight as all ground operations involving taxi, take-off and 
landing, and all other flight operations conducted below 10,000 feet, 
except cruise flight.
    The personal use of personal wireless communications devices and 
laptop computers for non-safety related activities is prohibited by the 
broad restrictions in the 1981 ``Sterile Cockpit'' rule during ground 
operations involving taxi, take-off and landing, and all other flight 
operations conducted below 10,000 feet. This final rule extends the 
prohibition on personal use of personal wireless communications devices 
and laptop computers to all phases of flight.

B. Statement of the Problem

    Several incidents involving a breakdown of cockpit discipline 
prompted Congress to address this issue via legislation. In one 
instance, two pilots were using their personal laptop computers during 
cruise flight and lost situational awareness, leading to a 150 mile 
fly-by of their destination. In another instance, a pilot sent a text 
message on her personal cell phone during the taxi phase of the flight 
after the aircraft pushed back from the gate and before the take-off 
sequence. These incidents illustrate the potential for such devices to 
create a hazardous distraction during critical phases of flight.
    This rule will ensure that certain non-essential activities do not 
contribute to the challenge of task management on the flight deck and 
do not contribute to a loss of situational awareness due to attention 
to non-essential activities, as highlighted by these incidents. See 78 
FR 2912 (Jan. 15, 2013).

C. National Transportation Safety Board Recommendations

    In its recommendations to the FAA regarding the Colgan accident in 
2009, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that 
because of the continuing number of accidents involving a breakdown in 
sterile cockpit discipline, collaborative action by the FAA and the 
aviation industry to address this issue was warranted. Therefore, the 
NTSB recommended (A-10-30) that the FAA require all part 121, 135, and 
91 subpart K operators to incorporate explicit guidance to pilots, 
including checklist reminders as appropriate, prohibiting the use of 
personal portable electronic devices on the flight deck.\2\
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    \2\ See http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2010/aar1001.pdf.
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    In response to NTSB recommendation A-10-30, the FAA issued 
Information for Operators (InFO) 10003, Cockpit Distractions, on April 
26, 2010. The NTSB responded that this action did not fully address the 
recommendation because the InFO was advisory only.\3\ With this final 
rulemaking, the FAA will amend current Sec.  121.542 to prohibit the 
use of personal wireless communications devices and laptop computers by 
flightcrew members, for personal use, while the aircraft is being 
operated.
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    \3\ The NTSB closed recommendation A-10-30 as unacceptable on 
June 14, 2012. Summaries of the NTSB and FAA letters on A-10-30 can 
be found at http://www.ntsb.gov/SafetyRecs/Private/history.aspx?rec=A-10-030&addressee=FAA.
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    On August 26, 2011, a Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter, operating 
under part 135, impacted terrain following an engine failure near the 
airport in Mosby, Missouri. The helicopter experienced fuel exhaustion 
because the pilot departed without ensuring that the helicopter was 
adequately fueled. The investigation determined that the pilot engaged 
in frequent personal texting, both before and during the accident 
flight. The pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic, and patient were 
killed (CEN11FA599). As a result of its investigation, the NTSB issued 
the following recommendations:
     Prohibit flight crewmembers in 14 Code of Federal 
Regulations Part 135 and 91 subpart K operations from using a portable 
electronic device for nonoperational use while at their duty station on 
the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated. (A-13-7)
     Require all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, 135, 
and 91 subpart K operators to incorporate into their initial and 
recurrent pilot training programs information on the detrimental 
effects that distraction due to the nonoperational use of portable 
electronic devices can have on performance of safety-critical ground 
and flight operations. (A-13-8)
     Require all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, 135, 
and 91 subpart K operators to review their respective general 
operations manuals to ensure that procedures are in place that prohibit 
the nonoperational use of portable electronic devices by operational 
personnel while in flight and during safety-critical preparatory and 
planning activities on the ground in advance of flight. (A-13-9)
    With this final rule, the FAA is establishing an operational 
prohibition regarding the personal use of personal wireless 
communications devices and laptop computers that responds to these NTSB 
recommendations regarding part 121 operations.

D. Summary of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    On January 15, 2013, the FAA published a Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend part 121 to conform to the FAA Modernization 
and Reform Act of 2012. In the NPRM the FAA proposed to amend 14 CFR 
121.542 to add language to prohibit flightcrew members operating under 
part 121 from using a personal wireless communications device or a 
laptop computer for personal use while at their duty station on the 
flight deck while the aircraft is being operated. The proposed 
regulatory language clarified that the prohibition on use of a personal 
wireless communications device or laptop computer did not apply to the 
use of a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer for 
a purpose directly related to the operation of the aircraft, or for 
emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications, in 
accordance with procedures established by the air carrier and approved 
by the FAA. The comment period for the NPRM closed on March 18, 2013.

E. General Overview of Comments

    The FAA received 63 comments in response to the NPRM. Commenters 
included Delta Airlines (Delta), Airline

[[Page 8259]]

Pilots Association, International (ALPA), Rockwell Collins, the NTSB, 
and individuals. Delta, Rockwell Collins, the NTSB and many individuals 
generally supported the rule and stated that it would have a positive 
effect on safety. Several of these commenters suggested edits to the 
final rule requirements to clarify the proposed requirements, to add 
additional limitations to the proposed requirements or to broaden the 
scope of the requirements to cover operations under part 135 and part 
91 subpart K. ALPA and many individuals opposed the rule. They 
generally stated that the rule was unnecessary, unenforceable and may 
have a negative effect on safety.

III. Discussion of Public Comments and Final Rule

Expand the Scope of the Final Rule
    The NTSB commented that the FAA should expand the proposed rule to 
include part 135 and part 91 subpart K operations. Expanding the final 
rule to include part 135 and part 91 subpart K operations is outside 
the scope of the final rule, as the NPRM only discussed and solicited 
comments on applying this prohibition to part 121 operations. 
Additionally, the provisions of the final rule are consistent with the 
Congressional mandate to prevent distractions to flightcrew members in 
operations under part 121. However, the FAA may address part 135 and 
part 91 subpart K operations in future rulemaking.
    One individual commenter noted that the provisions in the final 
rule should apply to all required crewmembers on the aircraft, 
including flight attendants, and should also apply to aircraft 
dispatchers while on duty. Expanding the final rule to include flight 
attendants and aircraft dispatchers is outside the scope of the final 
rule, as the NPRM only discussed and solicited comments on applying 
this prohibition to flightcrew members while at their duty station on 
the flight deck. Additionally, the provisions of the rule are 
consistent with the Congressional mandate to prevent distractions to 
flightcrew members.
Definition of Personal Wireless Communications Device
    Delta commented in support of the proposed rule and noted that they 
currently have company policies similar to the proposed regulations. 
Delta also suggested that the FAA add language to the final rule to 
state that the PIC may allow the use of a personal electronic device by 
individuals who are occupying the flight deck jumpseat. Delta also 
suggested that the FAA replace the term ``personal wireless 
communications device'' with the term ``mobile wireless communications 
device.'' Delta noted that the word ``personal'' implies that these 
devices are owned by the pilot and wanted it to be clear that the rule 
should include any mobile wireless communications device being used for 
personal purposes, including company provided devices.
    The FAA clarifies that the prohibition in the final rule only 
extends to crewmembers at a flightcrew member duty station; therefore, 
the prohibition does not apply to a person occupying the flight deck 
jumpseat. Additionally, the provisions of the final rule do not require 
an ``ownership'' test regarding the laptop computer or personal 
wireless communications device. These devices can be owned by the air 
carrier or the flightcrew member. The provisions of the final rule 
require a ``use'' test. These devices (regardless of who owns them) may 
not be used for personal use (e.g. personal communications, personal 
emails, leisure activities, etc.) while the flightcrew member is at his 
or her duty station while the aircraft is being operated. In the final 
rule, the FAA has amended the regulation to include the statutory 
definition for the term ``personal wireless communications devices.''
Increased Restrictions
    One individual commenter suggested that the prohibition on the 
personal use of these devices commence when the pilot first enters the 
flight deck prior to the flight, instead of at taxi, as proposed in the 
NPRM. The FAA has determined that the proposed operational timeframe 
for this prohibition, commencing at taxi and ending when the aircraft 
is parked at the gate at the end of the flight segment, maintains an 
appropriate level of safety because it reflects the current provisions 
in the ``sterile cockpit'' rule. The FAA will maintain this requirement 
in the final rule.
    One individual pilot generally supported the final rule but offered 
an alternative that would be more restrictive than the proposed rule. 
This individual recommended that the FAA extend the ``sterile cockpit'' 
prohibitions to cover the entire flight, including operations above 
10,000 feet. Conversely, other pilots noted that for decades, pilots 
have stayed mentally engaged and active during long flights with 
newspapers, magazines, books, and crosswords. These commenters noted 
that these cruise activities enable flightcrew members to address 
boredom and fatigue. Additionally, these commenters noted that now 
newspapers, magazines, books, and crosswords are replaced by e-readers 
and tablets. These commenters reiterated that flightcrew members are 
able to manage themselves and their flight activities in a professional 
manner. Several commenters also cited safety concerns regarding pilots 
who may become bored, lethargic, inattentive and fatigued without the 
ability to engage in the personal use of personal electronic devices.
    The FAA notes that activities that promote mental engagement during 
operations at cruise altitude have a benefit of keeping a pilot engaged 
and alert. However, as discussed in the NPRM, there is a difference in 
the potential for certain activities to negatively impact a pilot's 
situational awareness.
    The NPRM cited a study \4\ that noted that the high fidelity 
attributes of certain displays could be a causal factor that amplified 
the likelihood of display induced attentional tunneling of pilots. The 
study also noted that ``realistic 3D displays . . . tend to become an 
attention sink.'' Additionally, the study notes that ``. . . 
attentional tunneling would operate to engage pilots' attention on 
these displays more than when situation and guidance information was 
presented . . . in a less compelling format.'' It is this potential 
safety risk that is addressed by the requirements in the final rule.
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    \4\ Wickens, C.D., Alexander, A.L. Attentional tunneling and 
task management in synthetic vision displays. The International 
Journal of Aviation Psychology, 19(3), 182-199 (2009).
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    One individual commenter suggested that the limitation regarding 
the approved operational use of a personal electronic device apply to 
only one pilot at a time during cruise flight to ensure that one pilot 
is always able to focus on the flight deck displays and is able to 
maintain situational awareness. The FAA notes that this proposal only 
affects ``personal use'' of personal wireless communications devices 
and laptop computers. FAA approved air carrier programs regarding 
``approved operational use'' (e.g. electronic flight bags (EFB), 
digitized charts or manuals) of personal wireless communications 
devices and laptop computers are beyond the scope of this proposal.
Fewer Restrictions
    A pilot commented that the FAA should limit the prohibition on 
personal use of these devices to critical phases of flight. The FAA 
notes that the provisions of current Sec.  121.542 already

[[Page 8260]]

prohibit any activity during a critical phase of flight which could 
distract any flightcrew member from the performance of his or her 
duties or which could interfere in any way with the proper conduct of 
those duties.
    Another pilot commented that flightcrew members should be able to 
use any personal electronic device, as long as the purpose is 
``aviation related'', such as calling dispatch or maintenance to update 
operational or weather information or to receive the latest radar 
images to ensure a safe flight path on departure.
    The provisions of the final rule allow those ``aviation related'' 
activities as long as they are in accordance with FAA approved air 
carrier procedures. It is not the FAA's intent to limit the use of 
personal wireless communications devices and laptop computers on the 
flight deck, as long as those devices support safe operation of the 
aircraft. The FAA reiterates that activities outside of an air 
carrier's standard operating procedures that may seem innocuous, such 
as making phone calls or texting, can create a hazardous distraction 
during critical phases of flight. Additionally, as stated in the NPRM, 
receiving radar images on personal wireless communications devices can 
cause flightcrew members to lose situational awareness when a personal 
electronic device used on the flight deck is inconsistent with the type 
certified flight deck design philosophy. This inconsistency could 
provide distraction, confusion, and ultimately contribute to a loss of 
situational awareness.
    Another commenter suggested that the final rule should allow one 
pilot to be able to use a portable electronic device for personal use, 
as long as the other pilot is not using a portable electronic device 
for personal use. The FAA notes that the Act extends the limit to both 
pilots at all times ``while at the flight crewmember's duty station on 
the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated.''
Current Rules Are Sufficient
    Many individual commenters noted that the current ``sterile 
cockpit'' rule should already be sufficient and that the additional 
provisions of this rule are not necessary. The FAA notes that this 
final rule is responsive to the legislative mandate in Section 307 of 
the Act, Prohibition on Personal Use of Electronic Devices on the 
Flight Deck, which exceeds the current requirements in Sec.  121.542 
(i.e. the ``sterile cockpit'' rule). Section 307 makes it ``unlawful 
for a flight crewmember of an aircraft used to provide air 
transportation under part 121 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, 
to use a personal wireless communications device or laptop computer 
while at the flight crewmember's duty station on the flight deck of 
such an aircraft while the aircraft is being operated.''
Pilot-In-Command Authority
    ALPA noted that individual airlines must retain the ability to 
define the appropriate use of such devices, tailored to their overall 
operations. ALPA added that every flight presents a unique set of 
challenges that must be addressed by professional flightcrew members. 
ALPA further noted that in the event of an inflight emergency or other 
abnormal situation, PICs must retain the authority to determine how and 
when to use equipment on board the aircraft.
    The FAA notes that the final rule allows air carriers to determine 
operational requirements and procedures, subject to approval by the 
FAA. Also, as stated by another individual commenter, this regulation 
in no way impedes the function of the flightcrew members since the rule 
does not apply to the use of a personal wireless communication device 
for a purpose that is directly related to the operation of the 
aircraft, for emergency and safety-related concerns, in accordance with 
FAA approved air carrier procedures. The FAA clarifies, in response to 
ALPA's concern, that the provisions of Sec.  91.3, Responsibility and 
authority of the pilot in command, remain unchanged. The pilot in 
command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final 
authority as to, the operation of that aircraft and in an in-flight 
emergency requiring immediate action, the PIC may deviate from any rule 
of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.
Enforcement
    Several individual commenters suggested that all personal wireless 
communications devices and laptop computers that are used for approved 
operational use should be provided by the air carrier, so the air 
carrier could download history, monitor use or block access to certain 
material. These commenters noted that this would help to ensure that 
the device would be used by the flightcrew member only for approved 
operational procedures and would assist in enforcement of the rule. 
Several other commenters generally noted that it would be difficult for 
the FAA to enforce the provisions of this rule.
    Requiring air carriers to provide all personal wireless 
communications devices or laptop computers that are approved for 
operational use is not necessary for safety. In addition, this is not 
necessary for enforcing the provisions of the final rule.
    The final rule is intended to ensure that 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 safety provisions in the final rule address 
``use''. The ``ownership'' of the personal wireless communications 
device or laptop computer is not important.
    Additionally, when the FAA published the proposed rule that 
established the ``sterile cockpit'' provisions in 1980, the agency 
received several similar comments that the provisions of that rule 
would be difficult to enforce. The FAA responds to current comments in 
the same way the FAA responded to the comments for the ``sterile 
cockpit'' final rule (46 FR 5501). In that final rule, the FAA 
generally responded that the FAA does not agree that the rule is too 
difficult to enforce. The FAA stated that principal operations 
inspectors will assure air carrier compliance through review of manuals 
and procedures. Individual compliance will be assured through en route 
surveillance as in the past. The FAA's position remains the same and 
violations of this rule will be pursued similarly as those of any other 
rule.
Inhibit Innovation
    Several individual commenters noted that the rule would impede the 
use of innovation and technology by prohibiting the use of all 
electronic devices on the flight deck. Several commenters were 
concerned that this rule would affect innovations in the use of EFB and 
use of similar technology on the flight deck. These commenters noted 
that it was important to allow air carriers and crewmembers to take 
advantage of this new technology, as deemed appropriate, to increase 
operational efficiency and safety.
    As stated previously, the FAA encourages the use of new electronic 
technologies that as stated by commenters, will allow air carriers to 
``. . . . take advantage of this new technology as deemed appropriate 
to increase operational efficiency and safety.'' However, due to 
potential hazards to safe operation of the aircraft, the FAA carefully 
regulates the use of EFB hardware and software by crewmembers through 
FAA approval of air carrier EFB programs. The prohibitions in the final 
rule only extend to the personal use of such devices when the device, 
software, and

[[Page 8261]]

procedures are not approved by the FAA.
Prohibited Devices
    Several commenters asked if the limitations in the rule extended to 
specific devices, such as iPods, used to listen to music. As stated in 
the NPRM, Section 307 of the Act defines ``personal wireless 
communications device'' as a device through which personal wireless 
services (as defined in Section 332(c)(7)(C)(i) of the Communications 
Act of 1934) are transmitted.\5\ The Communications Act of 1934 states 
that personal wireless services means commercial mobile services, 
unlicensed wireless services, and common carrier wireless exchange 
access service.
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    \5\ See 47 U.S.C. 332(c)(7)(C)(i).
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    In general, wireless telecommunications is the transfer of 
information between two or more points that are not physically 
connected. In the final rule, the FAA retains the same broad category 
of included devices because a list of specific devices would ignore the 
reality of evolving technology. This broad category includes, but is 
not limited to, devices such as cell phones, smartphones, personal 
digital assistants, tablets, e-readers, some (but not all) gaming 
systems, iPods and MP3 players, as well as netbooks and notebook 
computers.
    Evolving technology makes it difficult to develop an inclusive list 
of devices that are addressed by the provisions of the final rule. The 
FAA notes that the final rule establishes a clear definition of 
personal wireless communications devices. The provisions of the final 
rule do not prohibit the use of devices that do not meet the definition 
of personal wireless communications devices.
Interference With Aircraft Systems
    Several commenters supported the proposed rule and noted that the 
indiscriminate use of personal wireless communications devices and 
laptop computers by flightcrew members has the potential to interfere 
with communications systems on the airplane. The FAA notes that the 
potential for electromagnetic interference on the flight deck is beyond 
the scope of this rulemaking. This rulemaking is intended to ensure 
that 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.

A. Requirements

    The requirements in the final rule prohibit the personal use of a 
personal wireless communications device or laptop computer while a 
flightcrew member is at his or her duty station during all ground 
operations involving taxi, takeoff and landing, and all other flight 
operations. The final rule does not prohibit the use of personal 
wireless communications devices or laptop computers if the purpose is 
directly related to operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, 
safety-related, or employment-related communications and the use is in 
accordance with air carrier procedures approved by the Administrator.
    The FAA clarifies that ``emergency'' communications are those 
related to the safe operation of the aircraft and its occupants, not a 
flightcrew member's personal emergency. Additionally, the FAA clarifies 
that ``employment-related'' communications are not at the discretion of 
the pilot, but are part of FAA approved operational procedures 
regarding the use of personal wireless communications devices or laptop 
computers. For example, in the previously noted situation with the 
pilots who became distracted when using personal laptop computers while 
discussing the air carrier's flight scheduling software, the flight 
schedules may have been ``employment-related,'' but the personal use of 
laptop computers during the discussion was not part of FAA approved 
operational procedures and will be prohibited by the final rule.

B. Current Air Carrier Programs

    Several air carriers currently have FAA approved programs or are in 
the process of developing programs for FAA approval where laptop 
computers and personal wireless communications devices, such as 
tablets, are used by flightcrew members for work-related activities 
during flight operations. In some cases, air carriers own the laptop 
computers and/or personal wireless communications devices used by 
flightcrew members. In other cases, flightcrew members own the laptop 
computers and/or personal wireless communications devices. The FAA 
clarifies that the provisions in the final rule do not affect these FAA 
approved programs.

C. Operational Timeframes for Prohibition

    Section 307 of the Act states that it is unlawful to use a device 
for personal use while an aircraft is being operated. The meaning of an 
``aircraft being operated'' as it pertains to some FAA regulations is 
very broad, to include being parked at the gate while passengers are 
boarding. The FAA clarifies that for the purposes of this rule, the 
meaning of an ``aircraft being operated'' mirrors the definition of 
``flight time'' in 14 CFR 1.1. Therefore, the prohibition on the 
personal use of laptop computers and personal wireless communications 
devices commences at taxi (movement of the aircraft under its own 
power) and ends when the aircraft is parked at the gate at the end of 
the flight segment.

IV. Regulatory Notices and Analyses

A. Regulatory Evaluation

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563 direct 
that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon 
a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation 
justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. 
L. 96-354) requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of 
regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act 
of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits agencies from setting standards that 
create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. In developing U.S. standards, the Trade Act requires agencies 
to consider international standards and, where appropriate, that they 
be the basis of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) requires agencies to prepare a written 
assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or 
final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result in the 
expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, 
or by the private sector, of $100 million or more annually (adjusted 
for inflation with base year of 1995). This portion of the preamble 
summarizes the FAA's analysis of the economic impacts of this final 
rule.
    The Department of Transportation Order DOT 2100.5 prescribes 
policies and procedures for simplification, analysis, and review of 
regulations. If the expected cost impact is so minimal that a proposed 
or final rule does not warrant a full evaluation, this order permits 
that a statement to that effect and the basis for it to be included in 
the preamble if a full regulatory evaluation of the cost and benefits 
is not prepared. Such a determination has been made for this final 
rule. The reasoning for this determination follows:
    The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, enacted on February 
14, 2012, includes Section 307, Prohibition on Personal Use of 
Electronic Devices on the Flight Deck. The FAA is

[[Page 8262]]

amending part 121 to conform to this legislation. The final rule will 
prohibit flightcrew members in operations under part 121 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. This final rule will ensure that certain non-
essential activities do not contribute to the challenge of task 
management on the flight deck and do not contribute to a loss of 
situational awareness due to attention to non-essential activities. The 
FAA expects that this final rule reflects current sterile cockpit 
operating procedures and therefore does not impose more than a minimum 
cost on any regulated entity.
    The FAA has, therefore, determined that this final rule is not a 
``significant regulatory action'' as defined in section 3(f) of 
Executive Order 12866, and is not ``significant'' as defined in DOT's 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Determination

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) (RFA) 
establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall 
endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable 
statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale 
of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions 
subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required 
to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain 
the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given 
serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, 
including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions. Agencies must perform a review to determine 
whether a rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. If the agency determines that it will, the 
agency must prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis as described in 
the RFA. However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected 
to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, section 605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of the 
agency may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required. The certification must include a statement providing the 
factual basis for this determination, and the reasoning should be 
clear.
    The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, enacted on February 
14, 2012, includes Section 307, Prohibition on Personal Use of 
Electronic Devices on the Flight Deck. The FAA is amending part 121 to 
conform to this legislation. The final rule will prohibit flightcrew 
members in operations under part 121 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. This rule is intended to ensure that certain non-essential 
activities do not contribute to the challenge of task management on the 
flight deck and do not contribute to a loss of situational awareness 
due to attention to non-essential activities. While this final rule 
affects small entities, it merely revises existing FAA rules and does 
not impose any cost on any regulated entity.
    If an agency determines that a rulemaking will not result in a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, 
the head of the agency may so certify under section 605(b) of the RFA. 
Therefore, as provided in section 605(b) the head of the FAA certifies 
that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.

C. International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits Federal 
agencies from establishing any standards or engaging in related 
activities that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of 
the United States. Legitimate domestic objectives, such as safety, are 
not considered unnecessary obstacles. The statute also requires 
consideration of international standards and, where appropriate, that 
they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has assessed the 
potential effect of this final rule and has determined that the 
objective is to ensure aviation safety thus is not an unnecessary 
obstacle.

D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-
4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(adjusted annually for inflation with the base year 1995) in any one 
year by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by 
the private sector; such a mandate is deemed to be a ``significant 
regulatory action.'' The FAA currently uses an inflation-adjusted value 
of $143.1 million in lieu of $100 million. This final rule does not 
contain such a mandate.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. The FAA has determined that 
there will be no new requirement for information collection associated 
with this final rule.

F. International Compatibility and Cooperation

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA policy to conform to 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and 
Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has 
determined that there are no ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices 
that correspond to these regulations.
    Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation, promotes international regulatory cooperation to meet 
shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, 
environmental, and other issues and to reduce, eliminate, or prevent 
unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements. The FAA has 
analyzed this action under the policies and agency responsibilities of 
Executive Order 13609, and has determined that this action would have 
no effect on international regulatory cooperation.

G. Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1E identifies FAA actions that are categorically 
excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy 
Act in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has 
determined this rulemaking action qualifies for the categorical 
exclusion identified in paragraph 312f and involves no extraordinary 
circumstances.

V. Executive Order Determinations

A. Executive Order 12866 and 13563

    See the ``Regulatory Evaluation'' discussion in the ``Regulatory 
Notices and Analyses'' section elsewhere in this preamble.

B. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this final rule under the principles and 
criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The agency has 
determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect 
on the States, or the relationship between the Federal Government and 
the States, or on the distribution of

[[Page 8263]]

power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, and, 
therefore, will not have Federalism implications.

C. Executive Order 13211, Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use

    The FAA analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). The agency has determined that it 
will not be a ``significant energy action'' under the executive order 
and will not be likely to have a significant adverse effect on the 
supply, distribution, or use of energy.

VI. How To Obtain Additional Information

A. Rulemaking Documents

    An electronic copy of a rulemaking document may be obtained by 
using the Internet--
    1. Search the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
    2. Visit the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies or
    3. Access the Government Printing Office's Web page at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/
    Copies may also be obtained by sending a request (identified by 
notice, amendment, or docket number of this rulemaking) to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680.

B. Comments Submitted to the Docket

    Comments received may be viewed by going to http://www.regulations.gov and following the online instructions to search the 
docket number for this action. Anyone is able to search the electronic 
form of all comments received into any of the FAA's dockets by the name 
of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if 
submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.).

C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 
1996 requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information 
or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its 
jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this document, 
may contact its local FAA official, or the person listed under the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at the beginning of the preamble. 
To find out more about SBREFA on the Internet, visit http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 121

    Air carriers, Aircraft, Airmen, Aviation safety, Safety, 
Transportation.

The Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration amends chapter I of title 14, Code of Federal 
Regulations as follows:

PART 121--OPERATING REQUIREMENTS: DOMESTIC, FLAG, AND SUPPLEMENTAL 
OPERATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 121 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40113, 40119, 41706, 
44101, 44701-44702, 44705, 44709-44711, 44713, 44716-44717, 44722, 
44732, 46105; Pub. L. 112-95, 126 Stat. 62 (49 U.S.C. 44732 note).


0
2. Amend Sec.  121.542 by adding paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  121.542  Flight crewmember duties.

* * * * *
    (d) During all flight time as defined in 14 CFR 1.1, no flight 
crewmember may use, nor may any pilot in command permit the use of, a 
personal wireless communications device (as defined in 49 U.S.C. 
44732(d)) or laptop computer while at a flight crewmember duty station 
unless the purpose is directly related to operation of the aircraft, or 
for emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications, in 
accordance with air carrier procedures approved by the Administrator.

    Issued under the authority provided by 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 
44701(a) and 44732 in Washington, DC on January 22, 2014.
Michael P. Huerta,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2014-02991 Filed 2-11-14; 8:45 am]
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