FAA panel finds electronic devices, Wi-Fi safe for 'gate to gate' use

By on October 2, 2013, 1:00 PM
tablet, smartphone, wi-fi, airplane, e-reader, faa, in-flight wi-fi

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advisory committee has come to the conclusion that it is safe for airline passengers to use hand-held electronic devices like smartphones, tablets and e-readers during all portions of a flight on nearly every US airliner. What’s more, these devices can be connected to onboard Wi-Fi systems without incident according to one of the group’s leaders as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The committee’s report which includes more than two dozen recommendations hasn’t been released by the FAA. In it, however, the panel found that regardless of what applications were running on devices or what wireless-transmission mode they are in, the vast majority of planes will be just fine from a safety standpoint.

A senior Amazon.com official that led the committee’s technical subcommittee said almost all airline fleets have already been upgraded to be resilient to electronic interference. That would make it safe for passengers to use devices from gate to gate, he said.

Ground-based cellular connections, however, are still off limits for now due to long-standing FCC rules prohibiting it. These precautions were put in place long ago over concerns of interfering with communications systems on the ground and possibly the fear of using a phone as a device to trigger an explosive. The committee has since urged the FAA to get with the FCC to reevaluate those restrictions, we’re told.

Being able to use a device for Internet-based communications is one thing, but do we really want people being able to make phone calls during a flight? Sure, it would be convenient but having to sit among a sea of jabbering passengers would surely be a headache in and of itself, but I digress.




User Comments: 7

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thewind said:

IF you've ever had your phone on during a flight you'd know you cant get a signal from that high up anyway! I've had both Verizon and sprint when I'm flying and neither can receive a signal after around 8,000 feet. Most planes fly above 20,000 feet so good luck getting anything up there anyway!

gamoniac said:

Once connected to WiFi, folks can use VOIP (Skype, etc) to chat. Just hope I won't sit next to a chatterbox though... We will miss the quiet time we have now.

1 person liked this | Adorerai said:

If someone was going to trigger a bomb with a cell phone, is telling them to turn off their phone really what's going to stop it?

Arris Arris said:

If someone was going to trigger a bomb with a cell phone, is telling them to turn off their phone really what's going to stop it?

My thoughts exactly.

MilwaukeeMike said:

If someone was going to trigger a bomb with a cell phone, is telling them to turn off their phone really what's going to stop it?

No, but it would stop the airlines from installing connectivity for you like they have with wi-fi.

Hacker said:

Yes, but you could trigger a bomb through wi-fi as well.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Remote detonators would likely be custom made and wouldn't be dependent on airline services. Anyone with electronic experience could build a long-range remote detonator. They don't have to be sophisticated to work. Making them tamper proof is another story though.

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