Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways today each received approvals from the US Federal Aviation Administration to implement new policies that immediately allow passengers to use portable electronic devices (PEDs) through all phases of flight.
Both carriers filed plans with the administration on 31 October after FAA administrator Michael Huerta briefed the media on the updated guidance during a press conference in Washington.
Under the new rules, passengers will be able to use devices like tablets, e-readers and smartphones below 10,000ft on all but a small number of flights. Larger items like laptops must still be stowed during taxiing, take-off and landing.
Delta Air Lines’ more than 570 mainline domestic aircraft will be cleared to fly with the new policies immediately. The expanded PED use on international flights will be applicable when the aircraft is taxiing, taking off or landing in the USA, in addition to when the aircraft is at cruise altitude and at the gate. The carrier expects to expand the rules to more than 550 regional aircraft operated by its nine Delta Connection regional partners by the end of the year.
The new policy now applies to flights on JetBlue’s fleet of 191 aircraft. The carrier operates 130 Airbus A320s, one Airbus A321 and 60 Embraer 190s.
“I’d like to thank the FAA and especially Administrator Michael Huerta for their adoption of the committee’s recommendations and for moving very quickly to allow us to make this enhancement available to all JetBlue customers starting today,” says JetBlue president and chief executive Dave Barger in a statement.
The new policy does not permit voice calls via cellular networks, which is prohibited under US Federal Communications Commission regulations.
Similar announcements from other US carriers are expected to follow in the next few weeks. American Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines have all indicated that they plan to file plans to use the new PED guidance in their operations.
The new PED guidance apply to nearly all US flights, as long as each airline submits a plan to the FAA to update their policies and verify that their aircraft systems can withstand any interference from the devices. The exception to the new PED policy is about 1% of flights that may not tolerate interference, in which case passengers would be instructed not to use the devices during take-off and landing in some instances of low visibility. This exception is prompted by “certain combinations of weather, avionics and aircraft,” said Huerta during the 31 October briefing.