FAA to Allow Wider Use of Personal Devices on Planes
The Federal Aviation Administration today voted in favor of allowing airlines to expand the use of personal electronics during all phases of flight. Today's decision follows a lengthy review of the existing policy, which requires that all devices be turned off during take-off and landing. The FAA studied the possible effects on safety that expanded use of electronics might have, and found that their use is generally safe in most circumstances. Today's ruling does not take effect immediately, it will be up to each individual airline to implement the new guidelines. The FAA believes that by the end of the year, most airlines will allow the use of devices such as tablets, e-readers, laptops, and cell phones to watch videos, read books, play games, or listen to music — as long as the devices are in airplane mode. With respect to cell phones, the FAA said, "Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled (i.e., no signal bars displayed) and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones." Passengers will be able to access on-board Wi-Fi (depending on availability), however, as well as use Bluetooth accessories, such as wireless headsets or keyboards. Wi-Fi is no offered by all airlines, and some of those that do can't operate their in-flight Wi-Fi systems until planes have ascended to at least 10,000 feet. "We believe today's decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future."