The Federal Aviation Administration’s advisory committee has recommended that restrictions on electronic device use on commercial flights be relaxed. The committee says airline passengers should be allowed to use personal electronic devices such as phones, tablets, and e-readers during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
Current rules prohibit the use of electronic devices such as the iPad or the iPhone below 10,000 feet, which means airline passengers are instructed to power off their devices as the plane ascends and descends. Pilots and crew, however, are allowed to use iPads during all phases of flight and many airlines have replaced pilot flight bags with iPads to reduce weight and save money.
The 28-member committee agreed on the recommendations during a closed door meeting. The recommendations will be included in a report to be delivered to the FAA early next week.
The ban was intended to prevent devices such as smartphones and tablets from interfering with cockpit equipment, but modern planes are designed to prevent such interference.
Under the recommendations, users of smartphones, such as the iPhone, would still need to switch the devices to airplane mode. Downloading of data, web browsing, and talking on the phone would still remain prohibited, however reading e-books, listening to music, viewing video, and playing games would be allowed during all phases of flight.
While it remains up to the FAA to decide if it will follow the recommendations of the committee, the FAA was the creator of the committee and was involved in deliberations, so it is likely that at least some of the changes will be implemented. No timeline for the changes has been announced.