An airline tragedy that occurred in 1974 is the reason why pilots are no longer allowed to talk amongst themselves while flying under 10,000 feet.
The Eastern Air Lines flight arriving at the Charlotte Douglas International in California missed the short runway in heavy fog and 72 people lost their lives.
During crash investigations, it was found that the incident was caused in part by “the flight crew’s lack of altitude awareness at critical points during the approach.”
Even though there was poor visibility due to the weather conditions, it was found that the pilots had become distracted and as a result hadn’t checked their instruments correctly.
Seven years after the incident occurred the Sterile Cockpit Rule was introduced as there was growing concerns pilots were becoming distracted during takeoff and landing.
"Sterile flight deck procedures are meant to increase the flight crew members' attention to their essential operational activities when their focused alert is needed," the code says.
All forms of communication are forbidden except those that are needed to undertake the safe operation of the aircraft.
Pilots are also banned from "eating meals, engaging in nonessential conversations… and nonessentials communications between the cabin and cockpit crews, and reading publications not related to the proper conduct of the flight.”
The rule has caused some confusion, though, with flight attendants unsure of whether or not they can break the rule in urgent situations.
In an attempt to curb the confusion, Japan Airlines released a list of reasons why it is ok to break the Sterile Cockpit Rule, and they include:
- In case of a fire
- Smoke in the cabin
- Abnormality during landing and takeoff
- Abnormal noise and vibration
- Fuel or other liquid leakages
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.