Earlier this year the FAA announced that they planned to take another look at allowing passengers to use electronic devices for the duration of flights. Currently, FAA regulations prohibit the use of any electronic device during taxi, takeoff and landing.
It seems we are one step closer to eliminating that inconvenience as the administration now says they are forming a new committee to review current policies, technological standards, testing methods and analyzing the use of personal electronics to see if there’s any risk of them interfering with aircraft electronics.
A change in existing policies would allow those on board to use their notebooks, tablets and smartphones for about 40 minutes longer. Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, notes this could be valuable productivity time for business travelers. He further argues that pilots use iPads during taxi and takeoff, so why shouldn’t passengers be able to do the same?
Passengers still won’t be able to use mobile phones for voice calls while in the air, however. This is fine with me as I’d prefer not to be stuck in a cabin for hours on end with everyone chatting it up on their phones.
The team will be assembled in the next few months and will spend six months working on the subject before coming to a decision. Once a conclusion has been reached, they are expected to report their findings to the FAA by March 2013. With any luck, we could perhaps see the rules changed sometime next year.