The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is finally allowing airline passengers to use their e-readers, tablets, and other gadgets while they are in flight. This decision is considered as the first major shift on policy that prohibits the use electronic devices, a restriction that was first implemented in 1966. It now puts an end to debates on whether emissions from electronic devices could interfere with pilots’ instruments.
It is expected that this change in policy could be implemented before the end of this year. It is expected to bring further the flying experience into the modern digital age. The new policy adopts recommendations of a recent policy from a high-level advisory body that convened in January amid increased pressure from carriers, legislators, technology firms, and device manufacturers.
The previous policy required all airline passengers to switch off their electronic devices while onboard any aircraft especially if it is below 10,000 feet. Obviously, that has been among the most disliked aviation rules in commercial flights.
New approved rules
Under the newly approved rules by FAA, passengers would now be allowed to use their hand-held devices while onboard like tablets, e-readers, and even smartphones. However, bigger items like laptops would still have to be turned off upon taking off and landing.
It should also be noted that making phone calls is still banned during flights. Handheld gadgets are also required to be in airplane mode, which effectively shuts down cellular connection. Mobile connections in flight are strictly prohibited by another agency, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), due to concerns that those may cause interference with cellular towers across the ground.
Airlines line up
Airline passengers could now use their devices to do other tasks and use various apps while in flight. The FAA particularly allows offering of Wi-Fi Internet connection in any altitude. However, most carriers’ online connections onboard don’t function while the aircraft is still below 10,000 feet.
Not surprisingly, many airlines have been aiming to become among the first carriers to implement the revamped policy. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways were among the first ones to apply for approval just within hours after FAA announced the new guidelines on October 31. Both carriers hope they could allow their passengers to use their devices in flight from gate to gate at the soonest time possible. American Airlines, on the other hand, thinks the approval process may last up to a month or 30 days.
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