As long as the integrity of critical in-flight communications is ensured, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should permit passenger usage of e-readers, tablet PCs, portable DVD players and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) at all stages of commercial flight, argued a variety of wireless, airline and other industry groups in comments filed with the FAA last week. The comments follow up on an FAA initiative, launched in August, that established a government-industry study group to consider potential changes to current FAA regulations that would facilitate increased PED usage on board commercial U.S. flights. Under long-standing FAA rules adopted in response to studies that were conducted between 1958 and 1961 on in-flight usage of FM radio receivers, PED usage is currently banned at altitudes below 10,000 feet during takeoff and landing. Observing that PEDs “have evolved dramatically” in the 50 years since the current FAA regulations were enacted, wireless association CTIA lamented that, “despite this evolution, the FAA’s approach has remained essentially unchanged even though more recent studies by the FAA’s federal advisory committee, RTCA, Inc., have not found conclusive data showing that PEDs interfere with aircraft systems.” Declaring that, “if no safety or health issues are clearly present, any particular technology should be allowed for in-flight use by PEDs,” the Telecommunications Industry Association told the FAA that “adopting flexible regulations . . . will result in maximum market participation, with the consumer benefitting in the end from a heightened quality of products and services.” Delta Airlines, meanwhile, cited the results of its survey of 1,462 customers that depicts overwhelming support for increased use of PEDs, as it voiced its belief “that advances in technology both in the PED and aircraft system designs have reduced the likelihood of an interference condition occurring in all phases of flight.” Acknowledging, however, that PEDs can pose a distraction for the flight crew, Delta stressed the “airline travel must adapt to the needs of the traveling public, but it must do so with a plan that ensures critical aircraft systems will not be affected by these devices.”