The US Federal Aviation Administration ruled on October 31 that Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) may be used at every stage of a passenger’s air journey, that is from gate to gate. PEDs include e-readers, noise reduction headphones, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The ruling is “based on input from the PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) which concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from PEDs.”
Most of the key US carriers are now allowing usage:
- Alaska Airlines from Nov 9
- American Airlines from Nov. 4
- American Eagle flights from Nov 4 except those operated by Chautauqua , ExpressJet Airlines, Republic Airline & SkyWest
- Delta Airlines from Nov 1 on mainline U.S. domestic flights
- Delta Connection (end of the year) on 550+ regional aircraft
- Frontier Airlines: no information
- Horizon Airlines: awaiting approval
- JetBlue from Nov 1
- Southwest: amending their procedures – should have more details soon
- United Airlines from Nov. 6
- United Express by the end of the year:
- US Airways from Nov. 7: domestic mainline flights can use small PEDs during all phases of flight.”
- US Airways Express flights do not have FAA approval
- Virgin America: Goal to go live in November – “in time for the holidays“
The FAA softening comes with ten conditions :
1. Safety is first priority.
2. Changes to PED policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline
3. Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.
4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.
5. Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. Airline WiFi & short-range Bluetooth accessories (eg wireless keyboards) may be used.
6. Heavier devices must be stowed during takeoff and landing
7. During safety briefings, electronic devices, books and newspapers are to be eschewed (good luck with this one!).
8. It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.
9. In some instances of low visibility – about one percent of flights – some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device!!!
10. Crew instructions must be followed and immediately turn off your device if asked.
While the announcement has excited many passengers, there are some who are concerned. The questions floating around:
- Is this really safe?
- Is a game, video or e-book really worth a potential safety risk?
- What will we do with the passengers who will not switch their cell phone off flightmode?
- How will a Flight attendant know if someone has complied with switching their cell phone off?
- Will we see more fights between passengers and crew over these rules?
How safe do you feel? How excited are you about this policy change?