The emergence of portable electronic devices (PEDs) has provided people with most anything at the touch of a button but has caused many safety-related distractions at the same time. A somewhat addictive reliance on PEDs, mostly smart phones, seems to exist even during times that would prohibit their use. Operation of PEDs during these times has led to some fatal accidents in all areas of transportation. The urgency of this safety issue now means the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) studies what role a PED may have played in every new accident investigation. Examining the use of PEDs on the flight deck, this field study researched: (a) whether pilots use PEDs when they would otherwise be prohibited, (b) whether PEDs cause errors on the flight deck, and (c) if there is one phase of flight where PED use takes place more than another. This study was administered to 20 commercial airline pilots using a 10-question, online survey. The four phases of flight examined in this survey included preflight preparation, cruise, final approach, and after landing/taxi-in. The study found that most pilots still use their PEDs even when they are prohibited, mainly due to the need for stimulation at cruise during long flights. The study also determined that a little more than half of the pilots do not believe PED usage led to errors. While non-operational use PEDs are not currently allowed during flight, there may be value in exploring an approval for their use during cruise. Many pilots use them despite their prohibition, and the evolution of avionics technology has resulted in low workload at cruise where pilots need stimulation to stay alert.



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