The Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday that it is starting a process to study the use of iPads and other electronic devices during an entire commercial flight. The timeline supplied for the study shows that it will be at least March 2013 before they make a recommendation.
In March the FAA raised hopes that it might loosen rules for electronic devices by saying it would “explore ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved.”
While smartphone and tablets are common in the passenger cabin, and pilots are using iPads in the cockpit, passengers still have to shut off electronic devices when the plane is below 10,000 feet because of worries that signals from the device might interfere with electronics in the cockpit.
The FAA doesn’t actually ban usage of the devices, but says airlines can only allow devices that have been tested and proven not to interfere with a plane’s electronics. To play it safe, airlines simply ban the usage of all devices during takeoff and landing.
A FAA committee will be formed this fall to study the issue for six months and then make a recommendation.
The group will include people from mobile technology companies, airplane makers, pilots and flight attendants, airlines, and passenger associations. The FAA will also solicit input from the general public.
In a written statement, acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency wants information to help airlines “decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today’s aircraft.”
Allowing cellphone use during flights is not under consideration.