Music while you fly?

One for the real pilots here rather than for those of us that merely play on a sim :-)

For those of you that fly commercially (or otherwise I suppose), are you allowed to have any kind of background music while you fly? Especially if you’re on a long haul. I know you’ll have plenty to do and need to keep distractions to a minimum but I always wondered whether you had the capability to plug in an MP3 player :-)

If so, what tunes do you blast up there in the cockpit?

Hi Toby, for commercial aircraft the answer is no, it is definitely not allowed… see the “sterile cockpit rule” of the FAA.

Sorry if I jump the gun, but I asked myself the same question. On a 16 hour straight flight from Johannesburg to New York, I often ask myself what would the pilots be doing??

Consider moving this topic to Real World Aviation, maybe??

Oh well, that answered that question pretty quickly! Thanks though.

I’m sure I remember one of the Tornado pilots based at RAF Stornowaytell me that they used to stick on their Walkman (it was that long ago!) if they were moving from one base to another.

That’s probably a more logical place. And Done!

For military aircrafts this might be different, I don’t know.

@SAA_A346 pilots have lot to do: interact with ATC, watch instruments (speed, attitude, engines, temperature etc.) The only part which is quieter is over oceans where there is no radar coverage (but still HF contact with center), but it doesn’t mean that pilots just stay there doing nothing… They still have to report where they are to ATC and watch separation etc.

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@lollip Understood, Sir. I’m just interested in their job space, particularly when flying over the ocean where everything and everyone is dead silent. I highly respect and love pilots, they are heroes. But, can you imagine the loneliness of their job. Locked up in a cockpit with only the 4 of us?? Can’t even call to say goodnight to kids? I’d go mad.

Oh I don’t know, flying over the Ocean in peace and quiet sounds like utter bliss!

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Then, I guess you are fit to be a long haul pilot.


Just to clear a few things up as I have before :)

  1. Sterile cockpit rule does not apply to listing to music, reading a book, mag, or playing crossword puzzles. The purpose of sterile cockpit is to keep your self and the other pilot focused on the task at hand at critical phases of flight(taxi, takeoff(departure ) approach (landing). Anything above 10k is fair game.

  2. I listen to music(depends on my mood) or podcasts. THERE IS NOTHING ILLEGAL ABOUT THAT. Many many pilot do this. Not all captain or copilot are social butterflies. This get pretty quiet up there, and boring at times. Try flying over the Midwest at night where there’s nothing to see with a moody captain. Yea, you better believe I turn on my music. Especially on my long legs. Thank god for bluetooth headsets like Bose. On shorter flights you don’t have that luxury. You are probably at cruise for 10 mins and within that time frame you need to get weather, get familiar with the airport you will be landing at, rwys in use so you know how far you have to taxi to the terminal. The key is to always be ahead of the plane at all times.

Keep in mind a good pilot is a great multitasker. Not too many jobs in the world where you use your sight, hearing, talking and then putting those things into action with physical movements(turning the yoke and or using the rudder) at the same time.


Yes, and boring. Imagine you in your room with all lights off. You see nothing but pitch black. On a clear day you see amazing stars and a full moon, but how long will that hold you attention? Haha.

Night flying is fun when you do short hauls and through major cities then you get to enjoy some nice views.

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He’s there to work, not to party ;D

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While flying over the ocean can get very very quiet. A long part of that trip you don’t talk to anyone, no atc, no center no nothing. You just give out position reports at certain time frames. Other than that, you are keeping track of all instruments and do your calc to make sure they match. If thee is weather in your flight path you and the cap will try an figure out an alternate route that would be safe and not eat too much fuel. Again you do this every so often. Most pilots usually read, eat, take a bathroom break and oh yea, talk to the air hostess durning this time ;)

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If I was a pilot, I would break out my Classic Throwback Playlist 😀


The Sterile Cockpit Rule is an FAA regulation requiring pilots to refrain from non-essential activities during critical phases of flight, below 10,000 feet, which is take-off and landing.

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I often visualize the pilots playing IF on one Ipad (without sounds) And them fighting about whos turn it is to play like little kids. But seriously I did ask myself the question about what they are doing this whole time too pretty often. I mean I can easily tell stories for about more than 10 hours straight, but after anhour it does get kinda boring for the listener to listen no? I’d love if the pilots were allowed to listen to radio or music or something XD while the cabin sleeps you could here some bass of the music playing in the cockpit with flashing lights and a disco bulb hanging there :P


Lol. True. Haha

The light will reflect off the disco ball on top the cockpit, interfere with the vision, and Studio 54 would come crashing back into the ground ;)

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