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CEA Backs FAA About CE Use On Airplanes

Arlington, Va. – The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is supporting a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory committee recommendation that airline passengers be allowed, with limited exceptions, to use typical handheld or lightweight electronics devices on airplanes.

The devices, such as tablets and e-readers, would be allowed to be used at all altitudes of flight on airplanes assessed to be resilient to radio interference, according to the FAA recomendation. The committee, formally known as the Portable Electronic Devices Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PED ARC), submitted its consensus report to the FAA yesterday.

The FAA established the PED ARC in January 2013 and tasked the committee to make recommendations and provide guidance to allow the expanded use of electronics devices on airplanes without compromising the safe operation of the aircraft.

The ARC included more than two dozen private sector and government experts, including representatives from the aviation and electronics industries; pilot and flight attendant unions; the in-flight entertainment and communications industry; passenger advocates; and several government agencies. The committee underwent a thorough process to produce a comprehensive set of consensus recommendations related to technical, operational and safety communications issues.

“CEA applauds the FAA for initiating this serious and comprehensive examination of the issues involved in additional use of consumer electronics on airplanes. We now urge the FAA’s immediate review, consideration and pursuit of the advisory committee’s recommendations,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy at CEA, and PED ARC member. “We understand the ARC’s recommendations are solely for the FAA’s consideration, and until the FAA issues additional guidance implemented by airlines, current practices remain unchanged.”

There has been widespread passenger use of PEDs aboard airplanes for several years with no significant interference incidents during tens of millions of flights. Supporting research, conducted jointly by CEA and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) earlier this year found roughly 99 percent of adult airline passengers who travel with a PED carried at least one on-board with them while traveling in the past 12 months, with 69 percent reporting they used their devices during flight. More, almost one-third (30 percent) of passengers report they have accidently left a PED turned on during a flight.

This topic will be the focus of a CEA Innovation Policy Summit session at the 2014 International CES. The session, “Change is in the air:  New policies for using consumer electronics on airplanes,” will be held Thursday, January 9.