Airline passengers who love to bask in the warm glow of their electronic devices should be happy, the FAA has finally agreed to permit the use of personal electronics like eReaders and tablets during takeoff and landing on flights.
Now that doesn’t mean you can pull out your Kindle during takeoff on your next flight. The FAA explained in a statement:
“Due to differences among fleets and operations, the implementation will vary among airlines, but the agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.”
Previously it was feared that signals from personal electronic devices would interfere with signals from the airplane, but the Aviation Rulemaking Committee has concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from personal electronic devices. The FAA has issued procedures for airlines to test their fleet for radio interference tolerance. Once the airline verifies that the fleet can handle it, they can them permit passengers to use tablets, eReaders and smartphones.
The agency says the decision came after input from from airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants and experts in the mobile technology industry. Passengers will eventually be able to read eBooks, play games and watch videos on their devices at any time during the flight.
During takeoff and landing, electronic devices must either be held by the passenger or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing. Cell phones will need to be in airplane mode or have the cellular service disabled. They cannot be used for voice communications and calls are still prohibited during flights.
However, if your cell company provides WiFi service, you still have the option to use those services. Short-range items like Bluetooth accessories and wireless keyboards are also permitted.
The changes will go into effect on an airline by airline basis.