Is the FAA Ready to Loosen In-Flight Electronics Rules?

The FAA might soon allow airline passengers to operate certain reading devices during takeoff and landing, but cellphone calls will remain off-limits.

Flying the friendly skies? You may not have to stow away your iPad after all if the Federal Aviation Administration relaxes its rules on in-flight electronics.

According to sources quoted in The New York Times, the FAA is under “tremendous pressure” to let passengers use devices throughout the flight, or provide “scientific evidence” why they can’t.

The rule change, which is being considered by a working group assembled by the agency, would take place at the end of the year if implemented. It would allow passengers to use reading devices during takeoff and landing but would not allow cellphone calls.

The FAA brought together the working group—which includes representatives from Amazon, the Consumer Electronics Association, Boeing, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Federal Communications Commission, and aircraft makers—to explore the safety factors and potential interference with radio frequencies related to in-flight electronic devices.

Some lawmakers, such as Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), would like the FAA to change its rules. “So it’s OK to have iPads in the cockpit; it’s OK for flight attendants—and they are not in a panic—yet it’s not OK for the traveling public,” she told the Times. “A flying copy of War and Peace is more dangerous than a Kindle.”

The working group’s objectives also include determining the exact definition of “airplane mode” on an electronic device, preventing flight attendants from becoming the “social police,” and ensuring that the new rules apply to any future technologies as well. The group is expected to release its findings by July 31.

Do you think the FAA should loosen these rules? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Daniel Ford

By Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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