At the request of the FAA, the RTCA is in the midst of a long-term study of the dangers portable electronic devices (PEDs) pose to aircraft systems. Specifically, a special RTCA group has been tasked with assessing what level of interference is caused by the latest ultra-wideband devices, cellphones and so-called pico-cells to support wireless phone use by passengers.
A number of companies are developing technology that would let passengers continue talking on their personal cellphones in the air by routing calls through special satcom equipment installed on board aircraft. The FCC and FAA could be persuaded to amend rules dealing with cellphone and personal electronics on aircraft in part based on the RTCA’s findings.
The RTCA working group, which is being headed by David Carson, an associate technical fellow with Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and Jamie Fowler, an executive with US Airways, expects to complete its work by next October. Afterward it plans to present a report on its findings in early 2006. RTCA is a private, non-profit corporation that develops recommendations for the FAA on a wide range of technical issues.