FAA Launches PED Safety Study

The FAA has released a request for comments as a first step in launching a study about what effects current policies and procedures with regards to portable electronic devices (PED) used by pilots and passengers in general aviation and air carrier operations may have on safety of flight.

Currently, it’s up to the operator of an aircraft to determine whether the use of a certain PED is safe and during what phases of flight PEDs may be used. Operators can use Advisory Circular (AC) 91-21-1B Use of Portable Electronic Devices Aboard Aircraft as a guide. This AC was published in 2006, long before the dawn of the iPad.

Public comments will be accepted for the next 60 days. A government-industry group comprised of pilot and flight attendant groups, aviation and mobile technology manufacturers, airlines and passenger associations will be formed this fall to study the comments and evaluate the use of PEDs during a six-month period. The group will then make recommendations to the FAA.

The focus of the study is passengers’ use of PEDs. Some researchers say such devices, and especially passengers’ cell phones, can interfere with onboard navigation systems. “With so many different types of devices available, we recognize that this is an issue of consumer interest,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “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.”

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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