commend the dedication and excellent work of all the
experts who spent the past year working together to give
us a solid report so we can now move forward with a
safety-based decision on when passengers can use PEDs on
airplanes,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
The PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) concluded
most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio
interference signals from PEDs. In a recent report, they
recommended that the FAA provide airlines with new
procedures to assess if their airplanes can tolerate
radio interference from PEDs.
Once an airline verifies the tolerance of its fleet, it
can allow passengers to use handheld, lightweight
electronic devices – such as tablets, e-readers, and
smartphones—at all altitudes. In rare instances of
low-visibility, the crew will instruct passengers to
turn off their devices during landing. The group also
recommended that heavier devices should be safely stowed
under seats or in overhead bins during takeoff and
The FAA is streamlining the approval of expanded PED use
by giving airlines updated, clear guidance. This FAA
tool will help airlines assess the risks of potential
PED-induced avionics problems for their airplanes and
specific operations. Airlines will evaluate avionics as
well as changes to stowage rules and passenger
announcements. Each airline will also need to revise
manuals, checklists for crewmember training materials,
carry-on baggage programs and passenger briefings before
expanding use of PEDs. Each airline will determine how
and when they will allow passengers broader use of PEDs.
The FAA did not consider changing the regulations
regarding the use of cell phones for voice
communications during flight because the issue is under
the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications
The ARC did recommend that the FAA consult with
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review
its current rules. Cell phones differ from most PEDs in
that they are designed to send out signals strong enough
to be received at great distances
Top Things Passengers Should Know about Expanded Use of
PEDs on Airplanes:
Make safety your first priority.
Changes to PED policies will not happen
immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your
airline to see if and when you can use your PED.
Current PED policies remain in effect until an
airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA
approval, and changes its PED policy.
Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.
Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the
cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi
connection on your device if the plane has an installed
WiFi system and the airline allows its use.
You can also continue to use short-range
Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.
Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the
overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items
could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you
or someone else in the event of turbulence or an
During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices,
books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s
It only takes a few minutes to secure items
according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and
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
10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn
off your device if asked.
Current FAA regulations require an aircraft operator to
determine that radio frequency interference from PEDs is
not a flight safety risk before the operator authorizes
them for use during certain phases of flight. Even PEDs
that do not intentionally transmit signals can emit
unintentional radio energy.
This energy may affect aircraft safety because the
signals can occur at the same frequencies used by the
plane’s highly sensitive communications, navigation,
flight control and electronic equipment. An airline must
show it can prevent potential interference that could
pose a safety hazard. The PED ARC report helps the FAA
to guide airlines through determining that they can
safely allow widespread use of PEDs.
The PED ARC began work in January, at the request of
Administrator Huerta, to determine if it is safe to
allow more widespread use of electronic devices in
The group also reviewed the public’s comments in
response to an August 2012 FAA notice on current policy,
guidance, and procedures that aircraft operators use
when determining if passengers can use PEDs.
The FAA is immediately giving airlines a clear path to
safely expand PED use by passengers, and the
Administrator will evaluate the rest of the ARC’s
longer-term recommendations and respond at a later date.
A Portable Electronic Device is any piece of
lightweight, electrically-powered equipment. These
devices are typically consumer electronic devices
capable of communications, data processing and/or
utility. Examples range from handheld, lightweight
electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers, and
smartphones to small devices such as MP3 players and