Committee To FAA: PEDs Are Safe

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Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) are safe for use in all phases of flight on almost all aircraft, according to information soon to be released by an FAA advisory committee and made available to The Wall Street Journal. The committee's conclusions reportedly include scores of recommendations that include lifting current restrictions on WiFi use below 10,000 feet. The recommendations refer specifically to devices used to access onboard WiFi services. The findings are expected to add weight to arguments that support gate-to-gate use of personal electronics in the passenger cabin of commercial aircraft. Cellular access has not been approved. And for many commercial flights the recommendations may not usher in substantial changes.

According to the Journal, the committee will recommend that ground-based cellular connections remain unapproved for use on aircraft because the FCC prohibits airborne cellular service, but that WiFi use through an aircraft's WiFi system be allowed. The FCC's stance on the use of cellular communications on aircraft stems in part from concerns that cell service could interfere with communications systems. And the committee will reportedly recommend that the FCC and FAA reconsider their positions on that theory. But the focus of the recommendations will be to allow the use of onboard WiFi during all phases of flight. Presently, more than half of the commercial passenger aircraft operating in the U.S. have earned approval for onboard WiFi systems. And the only change expected to be supported by the forthcoming recommendations affects gate-to-gate use. Cellphones accessing WiFi services will still need to be operated with cellular capabilities shut down.