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FAA switches on new portable electronic device rules

Airline passengers will soon be able to use portable electronic devices [PEDs] during the entire flight after the US Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] decided most devices don’t interfere with aircraft.

Passengers will be able to leave devices switched on from gate-to-gate with the only stipulation that electronic items will have to be stowed in the seat back pocket during take off and landing.

Each individual airline will have to apply to offer the new allowance due to the fact that there are widely varying “differences among fleets and operations” with the FAA hoping passengers will be able to benefit from the new standard by “the end of the year”.

The FAA came to its decision after a group of experts evaluated PEDs including representatives from airlines, aviation manufacturers, passenger and pilot groups, flight attendants and the mobile technology industry.

“I 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 Aviations Rulemaking Committee [ARC] decided, on the advice of experts, that most aircraft can deal with radio interference signals from PEDs and thus allow passengers to use most handheld devices at all times. It did state, however, that when visibility is low passengers will be advised to switch off devices when the plane is landing.

Airlines, to be considered, will have to evaluate avionics in addition to altering passenger announcement and stowage rules with updated manuals and training manuals being distributed to all members of crew.

In terms of which airlines will be the first to implement the new plans, both Delta and Jetblue are racing to become first to offer customers the service with the former stating it could have the standard in place by 1 November.