New study on portable electronic devices submitted to FAA

Washington DC
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A new study showing the prevalence of portable electronic devices (PEDs) among airline passengers has been submitted to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the agency evaluates policies on when travellers can use them on board.

Ninety-nine percent of adults travelling on airlines in the past year brought a PED with them onboard, says the study from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Of these travellers, 69% say they used their devices during the flight. Smartphones were the most popular devices used by 28% of passengers. A quarter of those surveyed said they used laptop computers, and 23% said they used tablets in flight. Digital audio players were used by 23% of survey participants, followed by e-readers used by 13% of travellers surveyed in the past year.

The FAA recommends that operators prohibit passengers from using PEDs during takeoff and landing, and US airlines have widely adopted this procedure. Studies are underway by a government-industry working group formed by the FAA to study the effects of the devices during all phases of flight.

Four in 10 passengers said they would like permission to use the devices during all phases of flight, survey data shows.

Travellers are supposed to completely turn off devices during take-off and landing, but survey data suggests that this does not always happen. About 30% of those surveyed said that they have accidentally left their devices turned on during the flight.

When asked to turn off electronic devices, 59% of the survey participants said that they turn the devices completely off. Sixty-one percent of these devices were smartphones. Twenty-one percent say they put the devices on "airplane mode".

"The data in the study reveals important insights into actual passenger behaviour, which we hope the FAA will find useful as it deliberates on this issue," says Russell Lemieux, executive director of APEX.