The FAA has today announced that it will finally allow the use of certain electronic devices during all phases of flight — including takeoff and landing. We’ve long been able to use devices while the plane is in the air, but you’ll no longer be forced to turn them off and put them away at certain times.
The FAA has determined that airlines can now safely relax rules on portable electronics, based on input from a group of experts, including representatives from airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry, it said in a statement today.
“Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions,” the statement reads. As you might expect, though, there are still some rules you’ll need to abide by.
“Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. 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.”
Don’t expect to see these changes go into affect immediately, either. The FAA says it will provide airlines with implementation guidelines, but of course it’s up to them to change their procedures. It also stresses that some won’t be able to adopt the changes right away — though it expects them to have done so by the end of 2013.
The change comes more than a year after the FAA announced that it would look at changing the rules regarding the use of electronics during takeoff and landing. It has already been approving the use of devices like the iPad for pilots, so it seemed only right that passengers would eventually see the same privileges.
As you might expect, the reaction to the latest developments has been only positive so far.
“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,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
“I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use PEDs on airplanes,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.