About a half a century after federal regulators put in place a ban on electronic devices during some phases of flight, the the Federal Aviation Administration is ready to considerably loosen restrictions.
Pretty much everything will be fair game during all phases of flight soon, with the exception of cell phones. According to the New York Times, those are the domain of the Federal Communications Commission.
There’s a slight catch, but it sounds like it won’t be a problem. Airlines will have to prove to the FAA that items like Kindles, ipads and other tablets won’t interfere with flight.
A 28-member committee, filled with airline and communications industry officials, had recommended the change in September.
“We found that we could protect aviation safety and at the same time address the passenger desire for use of their portable devices,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told reporters, according to USA Today. “The committee determined that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices.”
Electronic devices have long been allowed when an airplane is higher than 10,000 feet. But this change should allow to play with their machines even during landing and takeoff, as long as they are not transmitting. (Of course, a lot of people have been surreptitiously doing that for years, but that’s another story.)
According to an FAA statement referenced in the Chicago Tribune: “The agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.”