We’ve all been there; sitting on the runway, wedged into a plane with a ton of strangers. We sneakily check an email or Google+ post, hiding our digital lives away from the flight attendants. Takeoff is soon, and we know we can’t have our devices on during that time.
It never made sense, but we complied with the request to turn our devices off or have them in airplane mode. According to the Wall Street Journal, that could change soon. The FAA is reportedly assembled an advisory panel, which has counseled them to revisit their current stance on electronic devices usage in-flight.
Currently, we need to reach 10,000 feet before gaining the ability to use our devices. With advances made in consumer electronics over the years, those rules are now considered “untenable” by the panel. A report drafted by the panel makes some interesting points, as well as a few salient recommendations for consumers.
While details are not available, it’s clear the FAA will have to come up with an updated policy regarding electronics in-flight, during all phases of flight. Some devices with lower cellular activity, like eReaders, could end up being available throughout the flight. They also worry that without a course of action from the FCC, airlines could end up making their own rules, disparate of one another.
Recent research, pointed to by the advisory panel, yielded an important fact when discussing electronics on flights. It seems that about one third of passengers leave devices on during takeoff and/or landing. If that’s accurate, then change has already happened on some level, and no real harm has come of it.
Times have changed, and the FCC hasn’t. An updated policy is needed, and overdue.