Reg roundup: SEC sets higher insider trading fine; FAA moves to curb cockpit distractions

The 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 FAA wrote in the Federal Register document about the rules.

The agency makes clear that the prohibition does not apply to using personal devices — including laptops — “for a purpose directly related to operation of the aircraft, or for emergency, safety-related, or employment-related communications.”

The proposal is an extension of the so-called “Sterile Cockpit” rules initiated about two decades ago that aimed to “ensure that the environment on the flight deck was free from potentially dangerous distractions,” according to federal records. The regulations were deemed specifically important during the “critical phases” of flight, including the taxi, take-off and landing, and “all other flight operations conducted below 10,000 feet.”

Technically, the personal technology ban is covered under the sterile cockpit rules, but the new proposal would make it applicable to the whole flight — not just the critical phases.

Comments on the rules are due March 18.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is establishing a “minimum sound requirement” for the notably quiet engines of hybrid and electric vehicles, as required by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.

The regulation would require that “blind, visually-impaired, and other pedestrians” are able to hear vehicles coming. The legislation passed in 2010 mandates that the sound must be loud enough to be heard over “range of ambient environments.”

Comments are due by March 15.

The Office of Personnel Management is trying to streamline its operations by making it easier to receive federal retirement, health and life insurance benefits electronically.

One of the proposals involves regulations that require a person signing a form to have a notary present. The revised language allows for a “virtual” notary presence — such as over a video conference — as a substitute.