FAA studies, seeks input on use of portable electronic devices in flight

Apple iPad tablet computer
Apple iPad tablet computer

WASHINGTON, 28 Aug. 2012. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials are forming a government/industry group to study current policies and procedures surrounding aircraft operators’ use of portable electronic devices (PEDs), such as the Apple iPad and other tablet computers, in flight.

The working group formation comes in response to the growing adoption of portable, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics devices in both the cockpit and cabin.  

Current FAA regulations place the onus on an aircraft operator to determine that radio-frequency (RF) interference from PEDs are not a risk to flight safety prior to authorizing their use during certain phases of flight.

“With so many different types of devices available, we recognize that this is an issue of consumer interest,” explains Ray LaHood, secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation. “Safety is our highest priority, and we must set appropriate standards as we help the industry consider when passengers can use the latest technologies safely during a flight.”

The government-industry group will examine a variety of issues, including the testing methods aircraft operators use to determine which new technologies passengers can safely use aboard aircraft and when they can use them. The group will also look at the establishment of technological standards associated with the use of PEDs during any phase of flight. The group will present recommendations to the FAA.

“We’re looking for information to help air carriers and operators decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today’s aircraft,” says Michael Huerta, acting FAA administrator. “We also want solid safety data to make sure tomorrow’s aircraft designs are protected from interference.”

The government/industry group, established through an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, will be formally established this fall, meet for six months, and include representatives from the mobile technology and aviation manufacturing industries, pilot and flight attendant groups, airlines, and passenger associations. 

The FAA seeks public input on the agency’s current PED policies, guidance, and procedures for operators.

The FAA is seeking comments in the following areas: 

  • Operational, safety and security challenges associated with expanding PED use.
  • Data sharing between aircraft operators and manufacturers to facilitate authorization of PED use.
  • Necessity of new certification regulations requiring new aircraft designs to tolerate PED emissions.
  • Information-sharing for manufacturers who already have proven PED and aircraft system compatibility to provide information to operators for new and modified aircraft. 
  • Development of consumer electronics industry standards for aircraft-friendly PEDs, or aircraft-compatible modes of operation. 
  • Required publication of aircraft operators’ PED policies.
  • Restriction of PED use during takeoff, approach, landing and abnormal conditions to avoid distracting passengers during safety briefings and prevent possible injury to passengers.
  • Development of standards for systems that actively detect potentially hazardous PED emissions.
  • Technical challenges associated with further PED usage, and support from PED manufacturers to commercial aircraft operators.

The request for comments is on display at the Federal Register. Comments can be filed up to 60 days after the Federal Register publish date. View the document at: http://www.faa.gov/news/updates/media/PED_RFC_8-27-2012.pdf


Apple iPad tablet computer as electronic flight bag
Apple iPad tablet computer as electronic flight bag
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