Airline passengers may soon gain greater freedom to use laptop computers, tablet PCs, smart phones and other wireless personal electronic devices (PEDs) at all flight stages—including takeoff and landing—as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced plans on Monday to form a government-industry study group that will consider potential changes to current FAA regulations to facilitate increased PED usage. The FAA’s initiative targets in-flight data and Internet transmissions via PEDs and would not cover in-flight mobile voice calls via personal cell phones; such calls are currently prohibited under the FCC’s rules. Current FAA regulations, meanwhile, restrict the use of PEDs in flight but permit airlines to make exceptions if they determine that the PEDs in question will not interfere with in-flight communications and navigation. Pointing to the variety and types of PEDs that are currently available, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters, “we recognize that this is an issue of consumer interest” but noted that “safety is our highest priority, and we must set appropriate standards as we help the industry consider when passengers can use the latest technologies safely during a flight.” To arrive at such standards, the FAA will establish a working group that includes government and industry stakeholders. The group will commence meetings this fall. Among other things, the group will consider (1) development of consumer electronics industry standards for PEDs that are compatible with aircraft communications, (2) whether aircraft design should be changed to accommodate PEDs, (3) restriction of PED use during takeoff, approach, landing and abnormal conditions, and (4) technical challenges associated with PED use. After meeting for six months, the group will report its findings to the FCC. Noting that “dramatic changes in technology and society make it both appropriate and timely for the FAA to review whether updates to their rules are needed,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told reporters, “I am pleased that the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of [PEDs] on commercial aircraft.”