FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What was the purpose of the ARC?
According to the ARC charter:
- The PED ARC will provide a forum for the United States aviation community and PED manufacturers to review the comments received from the Federal Register notice.
- The PED ARC shall make recommendations to further clarify and provide guidance on allowing additional PEDs without compromising the continued safe operation of the aircraft.
As can be seen above, the purpose of the ARC was always to develop and provide “how to” guidance that could be used by FAA and operators (airlines) to safely expand the use of PEDs.
What authority did the committee have?
The committee was an advisory committee to the FAA, and not part of the FAA itself. As such, it could only make recommendations, not rules. It is up to the FAA to make or amend rules, as it sees fit, based upon the committee’s recommendations.
How much were the Committee members paid?
Members of the committee served on a voluntary, unpaid basis.
Who were the ARC's Members?
Here is a list of the Committees members:
When was the ARC's report due?
The committee's report was due September 30, 2013.
Why were PED's banned during takeoff and landing?
The FAA first published regulations on PED's in 1966 after studies found that portable FM radio receivers caused interference to VHF Omni Range (VOR) navigation systems.
However, by the early 1990's, the variety of PEDs had grown. A new study concluded:
- The risk of interference from PEDs such as tape or CD players and early personal computers was extremely low.
- Airlines could adopt a broad PED use allowance policy during phases of flight where the impact of interference would be low. (i.e., above 10,000 feet).
- PEDs should not be used during the critical phases of flight. (i.e., take-off and landing).
The FAA agreed and developed an advisory circular which is still in use and is the basis for most airlines' current policies.
Couldn't Airlines approve the use PED's if they wanted to?
If an operator wished to expand its PED use allowance, FAA policy and guidance was in place to allow PED use, with the proper testing and analysis, during any phase of flight.
(Unfortunately, airlines did not have the resources to test the multitude of PEDs in the manner mandated by the FAA. Neither does the FAA, nor does the FCC. The FCC, in the past, did test all electronic devices. Instead, the devices are self certified by the manufacturer.)
What Practical Constraints did the Committee face:
- The FAA does not directly regulate PEDs; this is the FCC’s job.
- FAA does not directly regulate passenger behavior; this is the duty of the operator.
- The FCC no longer tests all electronic devices sold in the US, and allows manufacturers to self-certify their products.
- To conduct or verify tests of every conceivable PED, was impractical and would place an excessive and unnecessary burden on the FAA.
- Since the FAA regulates airline operators and manufacturers, the focus of the committee’s recommendations is necessarily limited to these groups.
The solution: Since testing of the multitude PEDs is impractical if not impossible, and passengers are already ignoring current rules, the only practical solution is to make sure that all aircraft and their systems can be operated safely while these devices are in use.
Many aircraft already meet this criteria: During my travels I asked pilots if they had ever experienced interference with aircraft instruments and systems. Many pilots said they had not, but a few had. In general the larger and newer the plane, the less likely they were to experience interference.
How can airlines tell which airplanes are PED-Tolerant?
- Many newer planes are already certified by the manufacturer to be PED tolerant.
- Many older planes, while not certified as PED tolerant by the manufacturer, can nevertheless demonstrate PED tolerance through various tests.
- Other planes can be upgraded to modern standards for PED tolerance.
- Some planes may not be upgradable to full PED tolerance, and passengers on these planes on these planes will be required to abide by existing rules.
Details of the committee report: In accordance with its charter, the committee’s report details various recommendations, methods and techniques that operators can follow to expand PED usage through all phases of flight.
"Tbe ARC will submit a report detailing recommendations for allowing additional PED usage."
FAA's Fact Sheet
PED ARC Report
Naturally, pilots in command will still retain the authority to order passengers to power down and stow these devices if they believe conditions warrant such action.
How quickly can these recommendations be implemented?
The committee’s report must be read by FAA’s administrator, who is ultimately responsible for how much, if any of the report is adopted. Then the report will go to FAA staff, who will translate the committee’s recommendations into the appropriate regulatory and advisory language. After all of this, airline operators, manufacturers, and others will need a certain amount of lead time to implement FAA rules and advisories. I have every reason to believe that the Administrator will act promptly, and with good will, but as a practical matter a certain amount of time will be necessary to fully implement the committees recommendations.
Did the committee decide to loosen the existing rules because it felt they were unnecessary?
No. The committee offered the means to assess and mitigate risk that is likely real on many aircraft, and that nothing changes until that aircraft has been determined to be PED-tolerant.