FAA Adopts New Passenger Electronics Rules

Tablet, e-reader use expanded.

The FAA today announced that airlines may now permit the use of passengers’ personal electronic devices during all phases of flight, including takeoff and landing.

The FAA said it based its decision on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry.

Passengers will be able to read e-books, play video games and watch videos on their mobile devices at all times, with very limited exceptions, the FAA said. Cell phones should still be placed in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled, and cannot be used for voice communications per FCC regulations. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will be permitted throughout a flight.

“We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumers’ increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future.”

The PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee last month concluded that most commercial airplanes can handle radio interference signals from PEDs. In a recent report, the committee recommended that the FAA provide airlines with new procedures to assess if their airplanes can tolerate PED signals.

Once an airline verifies the tolerance of its fleet, the carrier can allow passengers to use handheld, lightweight electronic devices – such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones – at all times. In low visibility, the crew may still instruct passengers to turn off their devices during landing.

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