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NTSB Releases Personal Electronic Device Safety Guidelines

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued new recommendations regarding the use of personal electronic devices. The new guidelines were, in part, the result of the NTSB investigation into the August 2011 crash of Eurocopter AS350 B2 in Missouri. That crash claimed four lives. The NTSB issued nine new recommendations, including seven sent to the Federal Aviation Administration and two more sent to Air Methods, the company operating the crashed medical helicopter. The crash was the first aviation accident in which text messaging by the pilot was cited as a factor contributing to the accident.

Three of the recommendations sent to the FAA dealt directly with portable electronic devices. First, the NTSB recommended that flight crew members be prohibited from using a PED for nonoperational use while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft was being operated. Second, it recommended that initial and recurrent pilot training programs include information about the detrimental effects that distraction due to the nonoperational use of a PED can have on performance of safety-critical ground and flight operations. Finally, the NTSB wants to make sure that the general operations manuals used by flight operators contain procedures that prohibit the nonoperational use of PEDs by operational personnel while in flight and during safety critical preparatory and planning activities on the ground before a flight.

The NTSB recommended to Air Methods that the company expand its policy on PEDs to forbid them from nonoperational use during safety critical ground activities, as well as in flight. The Missouri crash involved a pilot who took off with too little fuel to complete the planned trip. It has been suggested that he was distracted by substantial cell phone activity before and during the flight.

Source: Aviation Today, "NTSB Issues PED Safety Guidelines to FAA, Air Methods," 7 May 2013

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