American to file plan today for expanded PED use

Washington DC
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American Airlines will join JetBlue and Delta in submitting a plan to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allows passengers to use portable electronic devices (PEDs) like tablets, smartphones and e-readers below 10,000ft.

“American Airlines will submit today to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) a plan to allow the extended use of portable electronic devices onboard our entire mainline fleet,” the carrier tells Flightglobal in a statement.

The carrier says it has completed PED tolerance testing on its mainline fleet of about 615 aircraft. Each US airline must carry out these tests to verify that aircraft systems can tolerate interference from PEDs before expanding their use in flight.

The guidance was first announced by FAA administrator Michael Huerta during a press conference in Washington on 31 October.

“American has been working with the FAA for some time on this initiative and we are excited to bring this improved level of service to our customers,” says the airline, which says it is working to bring the updated policy to its regional carriers by the end of the year.

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue are waiting for the FAA to approve their own plans after submitting them on 31 October.

Several other US carriers say they are in the process of updating their PED policies to reflect the new guidance, which includes updating checklists, manuals and safety briefings in addition to completing the testing.

“We hope to apply and implement the changes as soon as possible, with the goal of having the change live in November - in time for the holidays,” California-based Virgin America tells Flightglobal.

United Airlines and Southwest Airlines say they have both started work to implement the new policies as soon as possible, but did not provide details on when they would file respective plans.

The new guidance is based on recommendations submitted by a PED aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) on 30 September. The group includes airlines, suppliers and government agencies as well as groups representing flight attendants, passengers and the electronics industry. The new rules do not permit the use of voice calls in the air, which is prohibited under Federal Communications Commission regulations.