FAA Recommends Allowing The Use Of Electronic Devices During Take Off and Landing

by on September 27, 2013 · 13 comments

in FAA, Travel Industry

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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 for Apple products can be turned on in Settings.

Airplane mode for Apple products can be turned on in Settings.

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.

Under the expected new ruling, you will be able to use e-readers and tablets during take off and landing.

Under the expected new ruling, you will be able to use e-readers and tablets during take off and landing.

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!

You will still not be able to play games like Words With Friends on takeoff and landing.

You will still not be able to play games like Words With Friends during take off.

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.

Making calls, such as on the new iPhone 5c, is under the regulation of the Federal Communications Commission, not the FAA.

Making calls, such as on the new iPhone 5c, is under the regulation of the Federal Communications Commission, not the FAA.

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.

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  • Mooper

    The FAs aren’t likely to investigate each device to see if Airplane Mode is truly on. As leaving the radios on don’t add to the danger, I’ll be leaving mine on covertly. I doubt I’ll be the only one. If the government truly thinks this puts people at risk, they should add penalties similar to the one for smoking in flight. Else, the objective of the rule won’t be met anyway because of people like me.

  • Matt C.

    If your iPad is in Airplane Mode with WiFi on… Words with Friends is no problem. Go Alec B!

  • A.J.

    This is all well and good but until the restriction is lifted I dont understand why everyone has such a problem turning off for a few minutes. I would like to have my iPod powered up through take off and landing as well but just because a rule seems silly or outdated, or just because one may not agree with it does NOT make us excempt from following it.

  • disqust101

    It’s an absurd rule – I bet vast majority of people never turn their phones off – or put them in airplane mode.

  • Guest43

    I once sat next to a pilot who explained a lot of the absurd rules. Apparently phones that are transmitting data can cause interference not unlike what you hear when you put your phone too close to a speaker or alarm clock, and the pilots aren’t able to hear traffic control.

    I also learned the reason they make you put your seatback up during takeoff and landing is so the person behind you can escape quickly—it has nothing to do with being in an upright position making the crash more survivable for you.

  • NguyenVanFalk

    The rule serves a purpose for two good reasons. 1) In the event of a sudden accident at high speed (which is statistically more likely to happen during takeoff or landing) a cabin full of hand-held devices becomes a cabin full of unrestrained projectiles. 2) A cabin full of people distracted by mobile devices is not conducive to paying full attention to safety procedures and/or preparation for takeoff/landing.

    Frankly, I think we as humans can live without our precious little devices for 15 minutes.

    As for Apple’s Airplane Mode, you *can* enable WiFi while in Airplane Mode, so your item about not being able to access internet, check email, etc. isn’t accurate.

  • James

    Airplane mode still allows wifi so how is data not allowed?

  • dwrecked

    So why don’t they ban books?

  • Bobby

    For now, GoGo doesn’t activate until 10,000 feet. Hopefully that will change

  • 0dysse0s Marshall

    Welcome to 1992 Airline Industry! Seriously, it’s going to be interesting to say the least to see this industry finally evolve out of the era of the Alan Shepard, John Glenn devotee dynasty. But hey it’s a first step.

    Everything’s bigger in Texas.

  • Elenor

    “These devices … on airplane mode is perfectly safe,”

    (I don not believe they’re unsafe in non-airplane-mode however) that assumes that idiots will actually remember to SET airplane mode on the doggoned things. How many many many times are we in a classical concert, a book reading, a speech, heck, a library! — and someone just forgot (or didn’t bother) to turn it off?

    Still, maybe the NEXT step will be allowing us to plug in our devices and use the airplane’s wi fi via wire, instead of OTA.

  • KIooly

    Have you ever heard an official give these reasons or are they just folk wisdom?
    RE reason #1: Books are generally heavier than handheld devices and are not restricted.

  • ADP

    I don’t know why you wouldn’t want your phone in airplane mode anyways, not putting it on airplane mode makes the battery drain insanely fast as your device keeps searching for the network

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