AoC number


Primary domain


Secondary domain



Functions and use of personal electronic devices by passengers and flight crew are increasing and there are no means to ensure that passengers turn off all electronics in critical phases of flight and disable transmit/receive functions while on the aircraft.

It is estimated by CISCO Systems that by 2015 data traffic on mobile devices will increase 26 times above the 2010 levels.

In 2010, 3 million tablets were connected to the mobile network, and each tablet generated 5 times more traffic than the average smartphone. In 2010, mobile data traffic per tablet was 405 MB per month, compared to 79 MB per month per smartphone.

Potential hazard

  1. Degradation or failure of flight-critical firmware and hardware.
  2. Interference with avionics in aircraft on active runways due to permissive use of devices within aircraft having just exited active parallel runways (by passengers in arriving aircraft).
  3. Flight crew distraction due to their own personal or company provided cell phones, laptops or tablet devices.
  4. Passenger distraction during critical phases of flight due to pre-occupation arising from interaction with personal electronic devices or people at the other end of the conversation; failure to pay attention to safety briefings by cabin crew.
  5. Anecdotal evidence of:
    1. Inadvertent activation of cabin smoke detection systems due to cell-phone signals upon receiving a call (resulting in unnecessary diversions).
    2. FMS interference due to iPhone not being in “Airplane Mode”
    3. Passenger discontent with double standard applied to use of identical consumer electronics in the flight deck (e.g., iPad EFB’s) and in the passenger cabin.
    4. Personal electronics manufactured abroad may not meet FCC standards. These are being brought into the country on international flights (knockoffs and copies of U.S. products).
    5. Potential viruses and other malware from electronic upgrades to avionics software and firmware.
    6. PED spurious emissions can couple into aircraft radio receivers directly through the receiver antenna.
    7. Primary concern is from intentional PED transmitters
    8. Mobile phones, wireless RF network radios, wireless PDAs, two-way pagers, walkie-talkies
    9. Effective radiated powers range from a few milliwatts to several watts
    10. Aircraft systems have a wide range of immunity to backdoor RF coupling.
    11. For flight decks equipped with touch-screen interfaces, severe turbulence may reduce the ability of the pilot to make accurate data entries due to the inertia of the hand-arm in response to gross vehicle movements.
    12. The wide variety of transmission sources and their potential locations within the passenger cabin make it very difficult to predict all possible effects and failure if the High Intensity Radiated Field (HIRF) threat is found to be drifting toward unacceptable field strengths.

Corroborating sources and comments

14 NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas:

Too much to do without enough time, tools or resources leads to the inability to focus on what really matters, often precluding appropriate assessment of risk as well as proper threat and error management. Achieving and maintaining situational awareness while under pressure is key for successful business aviation operations to occur.

As saturation increases, performance decreases and the number of errors increases; these problems can be compounded by fatigue. When experiencing task saturation, a pilot may begin shutting down or compartmentalizing. The pilot may completely stop performing or begin acting sporadically and continuously reorganizing but not producing any effective results.

June 16, 2013: Time to Look at Pilot Reliance on Portable Devices?,; During a ground test of some Wi-Fi technology more than two years ago, a number of Honeywell-built displays on a Boeing 737 flickered and blanked out briefly from a nearby power source simulating especially powerful Wi-Fi signals. Lasting only seconds, the outages nevertheless raised red flags among air-safety officials and spurred coverage by various industry publications.

As of January 7, 2013, the FAA has established a Portable Electronic Device Aviation Rulemaking Committee; charter at:

Industry foresees significant growth in all its connectivity business segments. Already signed represent several hundred aircraft and demands for connectivity services is continuously increasing across all continents, A very large number of airlines and VIP & government aircraft operators are also expressing the same interest in connectivity services onboard their fleet across all regions.

ASRS Database Report Set – Passenger Electronic Devices: A sampling of incident reports referencing passenger electronic devices;

High-Intensity Radiated Fields (HIRF) Risk Analysis, July 1999, Final Report, DOT/FAA/AR-99/50

Office of Aviation Research Washington, D.C. 20591

Aircraft and Administration Portable Electronic Devices – A New Approach Seattle EMC Chapter Meeting

Dave Walen, FAA Regulation and Certification, Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor – Lightning and Electromagnetic Interference, March 25, 2008

Some aircraft are equipped with a Cursor Control Display (CCD) on the centre console. The palm of the hand fits cleanly on top of it and one can squeeze the palm around it while using the index finger to control the cursor movement and selections much like a mouse, between screen displays if touch screens become impractical due to turbulence.

McCaskill to Introduce Bill to Expand In-Flight Use of PEDs – March 11, 2013

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she will begin drafting legislation to expand the use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) on commercial airline flights in the United States. McCaskill, who sent a letter last week to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta alerting him to the legislation, is looking to allow passengers to use PEDs such as iPads and e-readers during all phases of flight; the legislation will not apply to cell phones. Current FAA regulations require aircraft operators to determine that radio frequency from PEDs do not interfere with aircraft navigation or communication systems prior to authorizing them for use during certain phases of flight.

Last update