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Air Force Restricts Passenger Use of Personal Electronics

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 29, 1996 – The Air Force has imposed new constraints on use of personal electronics aboard DoD transport aircraft.

Cellular phones, laptop computers, portable compact disc players and other personal electronic devices could interfere with aircraft navigation systems, Air Force officials said. They cited a recent example where a civilian aircraft was reported seven miles off course by ground-based approach radar. A flight crew member checked the cabin and discovered two passengers using portable tape players. After they turned off the players, the plane's on-board range indicator changed eight degrees.

Passengers cannot use cellular phones and other transmitting devices aboard military transport aircraft. Passengers can use nontransmitting devices (audio and video recorders and playback systems, computers, peripherals, electronic games and radios), but only above 10,000 feet and with the aircraft commander's approval.

Air crews and passengers must be aware of potentially dangerous interference electronic devices can impose on aircraft navigation and communications, the officials said. They directed preboarding passenger briefings and ordered revised crew checklists and passenger brochures.

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