The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory committee has recommended that airline passengers be allowed, with limited exceptions, to use typical handheld or lightweight electronics devices - such as tablets and e-readers - at all altitudes of flight on airplanes assessed to be resilient to radio interference.
The committee, formally known as the Portable Electronic Devices Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PED ARC), submitted its consensus report to the FAA yesterday.
The FAA established the PED ARC in January 2013 and tasked the committee to make recommendations and provide guidance to allow the expanded use of electronics devices on airplanes without compromising the safe operation of the aircraft. The ARC included more than two dozen private sector and government experts, including representatives from the aviation and electronics industries; pilot and flight attendant unions; the in-flight entertainment and communications industry; passenger advocates; and several government agencies. The committee underwent a thorough process to produce a set of consensus recommendations related to technical, operational and safety communications issues.
There has been widespread passenger use of PEDs aboard airplanes for several years with no significant interference incidents during tens of millions of flights. Supporting research, conducted jointly by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) earlier this year found roughly 99 percent of adult airline passengers who travel with a PED carried at least one on-board with them while traveling in the past 12 months, with 69 percent reporting they used their devices during flight. More, almost one-third (30 percent) of passengers report they have accidently left a PED turned on during a flight.