Pilot violations of the "sterile cockpit rule" may have played a role in six crashes since 2004, according to a USA TODAY review of citations by the National Transportation Safety Board. Since 1981, federal laws have banned extraneous chatter by cockpit crews when a plane is under 10,000 feet, but the newspaper suggests that rule is often bent. "We're seeing too many of these slips," says FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

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