Late last summer we reported that the FAA was accepting comments from the public on whether to relax the rules on the use of portable electronics by passengers on commercial flights. After the comment period ended, the FAA then formed an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to make recommendations on modernizing the current rules banning the use of electronics below 10,000 feet. This 28-member committee consisted of a wide-range of industry representatives, including reps from the major airlines, unions, Garmin, Amazon, Cessna and most of the aviation trade groups. Their job was “to provide recommendations that might permit the more widespread use of PEDs during flight while maintaining the highest levels of safety for the passengers and aircraft.”
Today the Wall Street Journal reports that the ARC has prepared draft recommendations for the FAA, and the consensus from the group is that the existing rules are not aligned with the dramatic growth in the use of portable electronic devices and passenger expectations. It’s reported that the group suggests that passengers should be able to use some devices, like tablets and e-readers, on all phases of flight. There will be some tests required on airliners before allowing this, but it would at least would open the door for expanded use of electronics by passengers. An interesting note too is that they suggest the captain could still override the use of PEDs in certain circumstances, say if the weather was low and an ILS was about to be flown. The recommendations do not address cell phone use though since that was not one of the items requested to be discussed by the FAA.
The FAA will make a formal decision on this issue after it receives the ARC’s final report, which is expected to be wrapped up at the end of September.