FAA to Review Passenger Usage of iPads and Other Electronic Devices During Takeoff and Landing

I’ve been flying quite a bit lately, and that dead zone during landing and takeoff when all electronic devices must be turned off is quite frustrating. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way – Alec Baldwin famously got kicked off of a flight for refusing to turn off his iPad, and recently, an American Airlines pilot made an exception for an autistic teen.

In fact, it may surprise you to know that pilots have iPads of their own up in the cockpit, and they don’t turn them off during takeoffs and landings. There’s good news on the horizon, though. The FAA has decided to compile a group to study portable electronics usage during flights.

Because so many people bring their portable electronic devices on flights these days, the FAA is planning to form a government-industry group to study the current electronic device policies and procedures that aircraft operators use to determine when these devices can be safely used during flight.

Currently, the FAA requires aircraft operators to determine that radio frequency interference from personal electronic devices is not a risk before authorizing them during use, aka the need to turn them off during both takeoff and landing.

The group is planning to explore the establishment of technological standards associated with the use of personal electronic devices during any phase of the flight, meaning we soon might be able to use our iPads and our iPhones (in flight mode, of course) at any point during a flight. If you’re hoping to use your cell phone during flights, you’re out of luck – the group is not considering the airborne use of cell phones for voice communications.

The group, which will be established through an Aviation Rulemaking Committee, will be formed this fall, and will meet for a total of six months before making recommendations to the FAA. It will include representatives from both the mobile technology and aviation manufacturing industries, along with pilots, flight attendants, airlines, and passenger associations.

You can submit your opinion on the issue to the FAA, which is currently seeking public input on current personal electronic device policies. If you have something to say, make sure to check out the details on this page for instructions on how to voice your thoughts.

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