FAA aiming to loosen restrictions on electronic device use on airplanes

March 25, 2013
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    We recently reported that Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill wrote to the FAA asking to allow travelers to use their electronic devices for the entire duration of the flight. According to a New York Times report, we may see some of the restrictions lifted on use of electronics in-flight, possibly by the end of this year or early 2014.

    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set up an industry working group to study the effects of the use of portable electronic devices during air travel, comprising of people from companies including Amazon, the Consumer Electronics Association, Boeing, the Association of Flight Attendants, the FCC, and the various airlines and aircraft makers. The group will announce its first findings on July 31, and the FAA hopes that their recommendations will allow for loosening the restrictions on using “reading” devices during take-off and landing.

    An internal report shown to the NY Times says that apart from allowing for the use of electronics on planes, the goals of the group include setting guidelines on the use of “Airplane Mode,” and allowing for a new, single, and concise set of regulations that will also apply to any future devices.

    The increasing dependence of travelers on their portable electronic devices is the reason that this issue has come to the forefront. After all, every smartphone, tablet, or e-reader now comes with an “Airplane Mode,” the idea behind which is to turn off the radio which supposedly interferes with the airplane communications equipment. Many agree with Senator McCaskill’s statement that considering the use of electronic devices for reading a book in-flight a threat is baseless and outdated.

    Hopefully, the new regulations will make things much easier for passengers. We still don’t know which devices will be allowed after the new set of rules come into play, but cellphones will not make it off the banned list.

    What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s time that the FAA lifts these restrictions? What electronic devices do you use while traveling by air? Let us know in the comments section below.

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    • Marvin Nakajima

      Personally I use a Kobo Touch ereader. But if the onboard movie line-up is good I may forego reading on the flight. :D

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