FAA to Study Use of Electronic Devices During Takeoffs and Landings

By Dan Collins on 28 August 2012
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Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 business class on upper deck

Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 business class

On Monday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it would launch a study to determine if modern portable electronic devices (PED) such as mobile phones and laptops could be used safely during take off and landing. The regulations in place now dictate that all electronics remain off between leaving the gate and when the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet as well as during descent and landing.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement that the study is driven by consumer interest and will also address changes in PED technology that have occured since the current regulations were put into place. LaHood further explained that the study is not necessarily intended to create a new policy, but rather to set standards for aircraft operators to determine themselves what is and is not safe and appropriate to use.

The Aviation Rulemaking Committee that will investigate the safety of PED usage and develop guidelines for future revision of PED regulations will meet for six months starting this fall. The committee is to include representatives from the mobile technology and aviation manufacturing industries, as well as pilot, flight attendant and airline associations and passenger groups. The resulting guidelines will encourage information sharing among product and aircraft manufacturers as well as airlines, and issue guidelines for publishing individual policies. Additionally, the FAA is seeking public input on the matter beginning today (August 28).

The FAA maintains that safety is the utmost priority in the forthcoming study, while recognizing the advancements of technology and potential obsolescence of current regulations. Currently, several technologies exist such as Lufthansa’s FlyNet, which in addition to in-flight WiFi supports GPRS communications, allowing mobile phones to send and receive text messages and access the Internet, but not place or receive voice transmissions. These services are limited to when the aircraft has reached a certain altitude, which this study has the potential to change.

To register your comments, visit www.federalregister.gov.

(Photo: Jonathan Spira)

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