New FAA Rules Let Airline Passengers Keep Electronic Devices Turned On
NEWS ANALYSIS: Flyers shouldn't expect any immediate changes since it could take months for airlines to decide to allow you to use your Kindle during takeoff.You knew it was going to happen. You knew that eventually the Federal Aviation Administration would relent and you'd be able to keep reading that novel you have on your Kindle (or your iPad or your Surface) during airliner takeoffs and landings. Now, finally, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced in an Oct. 31 press conference held in the main concourse at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport that the FAA was issuing guidelines that will allow the airlines to let you read in peace. Just don't expect it to happen right away. In fact, it probably won't happen in 2013. Why the wait? Well this is the FAA, and nothing happens quickly. But this isn't just bureaucratic inertia. The FAA is responsible airliner flight safety. So the agency took its time to make sure that electronic devices could be handled safely. But now it will take a while to make sure that the process is implemented safely. The next step is that each airline must certify that its aircraft can operate safely with personal electronic devices turned on in all phases of flight. Once that happens the airlines will allow passengers to use those devices, but only with some restrictions. Even if they're turned on, devices must be in Airplane Mode during takeoff and landing, for example.
The FAA has given permission for the airlines to allow WiFi operations while in flight, which some already do now. But WiFi will still be limited to altitudes above 10,000 feet and could be disabled when the pilot feels it's necessary.