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

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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.

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