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Yesterday, the members of the FAA advisory committee held a closed-door meeting to discuss the use of electronic devices during flights. It was agreed upon that passengers should now be able to use their smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other electronic devices during take off and landing as long as they are in airplane mode.
Airplane mode means that the device’s signal transmitting functions like calling, texting, and using data are disabled. While in this mode you can still play games, listen to music and take pictures on your device but you will not be able to shop, surf the web, send emails or play games that access the internet.
Although the 28-person committee of the FAA came to this conclusion, FAA officials will have to make the final decision to implement lifting these restrictions. The recommendation will be sent on Monday to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has final say on whether to ease current restrictions, according to the Associated Press.
This means that changes will most likely not be seen until early 2014 and it could be dragged on much longer than that, but once the ruling is approved travelers will be able to use most devices below 10,000 feet. Downloading data, surfing the Web and talking on the phone would remain banned however, so you would not be able to play Words With Friends on your tablet – sorry, Alec Baldwin!
Take offs and landings have always been believed to be the most critical stages of a flight, however newer aircraft are better equipped to deal with electronic interference and critics think that the rules are behind the times.
This has been a long discussed issue where many officials like Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. have been fighting for customers and believe there is no reason why passengers should not be able to use their devices when in Flight Mode.
“These devices are not dangerous. Your Kindle isn’t dangerous. Your iPad that is on airplane mode is perfectly safe,” said Sen. McCaskill, reported the AP.
The rule change regarding electronic devices has lead to inevitable talk about cell phones, but the FAA does not have the authority to lift restrictions on in-flight calls. That is under the regulation of the Federal Communications Commission, which has opposed allowing passengers to make phone calls because of the potential interference with cellular networks as phones in the sky skip from cell tower to cell tower faster than networks can keep up.