FAA Expected to Ease Gadget Rules for Takeoffs, Landings
June 21, 2013 11:05 AM
New draft recommendations say some devices, like e-readers, could be used the entire flight
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may back off on the
strict rules for gadgets during flight
, according to draft recommendations by an advisory panel.
The draft recommendations, which were prepared by a 28-member panel consisting of government, industry and pilot union representatives, are leaning toward the idea that current rules regarding electronic device use on planes could use a change.
The rules in place today were set in 1966, when it was believed that electromagnetic interference would cause problems with radios and navigation systems onboard the plane. The general rule is to turn all electronic devices off during takeoffs and landings, and can be turned on once the plane reaches about 10,000 feet.
However, with the flood of portable devices available today, it's nearly impossible to make sure each and every tablet or smartphone is off
during takeoffs and landings
That's why the FAA created the advisory board in August 2012. Not only is it looking for recommendations, but also didn't want each airline to create a different set of rules that would confuse passengers. So far, it looks like the board thinks it's time to relax the rules a little.
The draft recommendations are by no means the final word, as the final draft could have many changes. But for now, the board believes the weak wireless signals and tighter range of frequencies from electronic devices are not enough to interfere with plane systems. Approved devices,
such as e-readers
, could even be used during all phases of the flight.
But cell phones have not yet been addressed in the recommendations. However, phone calls are expected to remain off-limits, even if the reason is respect to other passengers sitting nearby who don't want to hear you go off about your stomach flu last week to Aunt Hilda.
Current rules for electronic device use has caused a lot of problems between passengers and even airline employees. For instance, a 68-year-old man punched a 15-year-old on a plane when the teenager refused to turn off his smartphone during a flight. According to the man, he was doing it to save the entire plane from any harmful consequences.
Another passenger was arrested in El Paso when he decided not to turn off his cell phone during landing. In yet another instance, a passenger did the same when landing in New York and a swarm of cop cars were waiting for him once he exited the plane.
Of course, many also remember the incident where Alec Baldwin was kicked off a plane in 2011 for playing Words With Friends.
The final recommendations are due to be completed in September.
The Wall Street Journal
"This is about the Internet. Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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