updated 11:21 am EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Smartphones, tablets in flight mode given OK for use at take-off
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that it is safe for passengers to use portable electronic devices on all phases of a flight, something it has been investigating for quite some time. The new recommendations will allow for mobile phones, tablets and other similar devices to be used during the take-off and landing of an aircraft, as well as when the aircraft reaches an altitude of at least 10,000 feet.
While there will be some exceptions, passengers will not be prevented from using devices from the start to the end of the journey. Smartphones and other devices that wirelessly connect must be placed in an airplane mode or have cellular service disabled, though in-flight Wi-Fi will still be permitted where available, and Bluetooth will also be allowed. Such devices should be "held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll," advises an FAA statement.
Even though the FAA is allowing the use of such devices, it will still be some time before passengers will be able to take advantage of the rule changes. Airlines will have to prove to the FAA that their fleets are safe from potential interference before it can be permitted, which will vary depending on carrier, though it is believed that the first carriers to use the new rules will do so before the end of this year.
It was revealed last month that a high-level 28-member advisory committee recommended to the FAA that it could relax the rules, which Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener said at the time "We've been fighting for our customers on this issue for years - testing an airplane packed full of Kindles, working with the FAA and serving as the device manager on this committee. This is a big win for customers and, frankly, it's about time."
"We believe today's decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer's increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phased of their flights," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, continuing "I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future."