The FAA might loosen in-flight gadget restrictions as early as next year. According to sources close to panel discussions, via New York Times, airliners may no longer require passengers to power down their gadgets before take-off / landing, and below 10,000 feet, though Airplane Mode will still be required once the plane is in motion. It’s not much, but it’s the first step toward FAA gadget acceptance.
The initial suggestion that electronics might be more accepted during flights was actually made more than a year ago, with a panel being brought together this year to mull it over. The “high-profile” panel, which was working on a rough draft as recently as this summer, could allow gadgets to be used during all phases of flight, so you can essentially start playing games or reading as soon as you take your seat. Anything to take the edge off before a flight.
“We have to make sure the planes can handle this,” said Douglass Kidd, the head of the National Association of Airline Passengers. “But there’s a lot of pressure on the FAA because passengers are very attached to their devices.”
If a new proposal passes, it’ll apply to all airlines and all types of airplanes. Allegedly, airlines won’t necessarily test every single devices out there to make sure they’re clear for use, but rather certify that their planes can tolerate interferences. Since devices still remain in Airplane Mode, no email, phone calls or messages – except those usable with in-flight Wi-Fi – will be tolerated, so don’t expect to start tethering while you’re on a flight. Voice communications allegedly interferes with transmissions between cell towers and ground crews, and is regulated by a completely different entity, the FCC.
Any change to regulations will certainly be welcome, especially since most people today own a mobile device. Even with the changing times, the FAA has been especially reluctant to evolve its policies with regards to technology – current guidelines are apparently based on regulations set back in 1966. Obviously nobody back then had an iPhone, Kindle or laptop. It’s nice to hear no rules might soon be introduced.