The FAA said that a government-industry group is now studying the current policies and procedures aircraft operators use to determine when these portable electronic devices (PEDs) can be used safely during flight.
The group, called an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, is examining 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. They also are looking at technological standards associated with the use of PEDs during any phase of flight.
Today, many air carriers are asking to use tablet computers in the cockpit as part of an “electronic flight bag,” in lieu of carrying bulky paper navigation charts and manuals. As part of its rigorous approval process, the FAA requires an air carrier to satisfactorily perform electromagnetic interference tests on the specific types of aircraft in which the device will be used.
On Monday, we have announced that American Airlines has completed the successful rollout of its industry-leading Electronic Flight Bag program with the discontinuation of paper revisions to terminal charts, making it the first major commercial airline to fully utilize tablets in all cockpits during all phases of flight. More details are here.
Cell phones (and other intentional transmitters) differ from most PEDs in that they are designed to send out signals strong enough to be received at great distances. Since 1991, the FCC has banned the inflight use of cell phones because of potential interference with ground networks. FAA guidance does allow cell phone calls once the plane has landed and is taxiing to the gate.
Today, airlines usually allow passengers to use newer-model phones in "airplane" mode above 10,000 feet. This mode disables the transmitter so the phone can’t make calls, but lets users play games, check an address or look at the phone’s calendar.