In an effort to reevaluate the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) during flight, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has requested comments from aircraft operators, pilots, PED manufacturers and PED designers on the current regulations in place. Though the FAA notes in their request that some devices do not transmit or receive any signals, they may still generate low-power, radio frequency emissions that might interfere with aircraft navigation and communication systems. The organization plans to assess whether use of PEDs will actually cause safety issues.
Retired aerospace accident investigator and electronics expert Douglas J. Hughes has already released a report on passenger use of portable electronic devices on aircraft in response to the FAA’s request. The report suggests “any discussion of PED use on board aircraft must consider the related subjects of aircraft safety and EMI … avoiding discussion of EMI impacts to safety would be imprudent.” In his report, he suggests that passengers play a key role in aircraft safety and believe they are more knowledgeable than the expert with respect to PED use but do not understand the basics. Hughes also touches upon historical aircraft incidents and accidents and analyses them with respect to improper handling of EMI.
Image: “Virgin America, The Best Airline I’ve Ever Flown” by Thomas Hawk, Twitter. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/4457322103/in/photostream/