Electronic Device Interference

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Some airlines have installed wi-fi, and others are putting iPads in the cockpit, but a recent report and real-world incident reports suggest interference from portable electronic devices (PEDs) is real and potentially dangerous. Is it? AVweb's Glenn Pew recently spoke with Dave Carson, who co-chaired a federal advisory committee on portable electronic devices in aviation, to better understand the threat. The committee was originally asked to create a list of safe and unsafe devices, but it quickly resolved that the task wouldn't be that simple.

The concern is simple enough. Flight crews have reported incidents of ILS needle anomalies, GPS signal loss and interference on an audio channel that have been attributed to interference from PEDs. The reality is complicated. According to Carson, real-world incidents have "never" been repeated in subsequent attempts to re-create the problem. So, all reported incidents are considered anecdotal. In the end, Carson's committee helped provide technical guidance for aircraft operators and aircraft design for PED tolerance. And his experience helps clarify the challenges faced by pilots when PEDs are introduced in airline and private airplane cockpits.

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