On October 31, a special Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) committee released final recommendations on expanded use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) in the aircraft cabin. Prior to the FAA announcement, AFA International President Veda Shook attended a briefing by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
Due to years of expert work on cabin safety issues, AFA was selected to serve as the voice of Flight Attendants on the PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which was tasked with providing detailed recommendations on the expanded use of PEDs in the aircraft cabin.
“Flight Attendants are the professionals responsible for responding to any emergency in the cabin. We provide an expert voice on how the use of these devices presents complex challenges for crewmembers in the cabin and unique issues for the safety of the passengers in our care,” said AFA in a public statement. “AFA supports technical innovation, but our first priorities are the safety and security of flight, as they are for the FAA, other aviation stakeholders and the traveling public.
“In order to expand the use of PEDs safely, the commercial aviation industry must first demonstrate that airplanes can tolerate electromagnetic interference from passenger devices. AFA is a strong advocate for streamlining the testing and validation processes needed to demonstrate this capability, and requiring that airlines and manufacturers complete this work as quickly as possible on all passenger airplanes.
At the same time, appropriate policies and procedures, supported by effective crew training programs and focused safety messaging from the industry to travelers, are needed to ensure that expanded use by passengers does not degrade safety and security. AFA encourages the FAA and industry to develop and quickly adopt uniform technical, operational, and training standards that will allow for the safe, managed expansion of PED usage by passengers.
“As the use of PEDs on aircraft expands in the future, AFA will work diligently alongside the FAA and industry to find creative, science-based approaches to ensure that passengers comply with the new operator policies and that their attention is not diverted from the important safety information provided by cabin crew during routine pre-flight briefings and unexpected emergencies, and that risks posed by loose items in the cabin are safely managed during the most critical portions of flight.”