The NY Times reports that the FAA is hoping to announce a change to this policy by the end of the year. It wouldn’t allow people to keep chattering on their phones as the plane takes off, but it would allow for the use of other devices, like tablets and e-readers, so long as they are put into “airplane” mode.
The decision would come out of the working group that has been looking into this whole topic for a few months. It is supposed to hand over its findings by the end of July.
From the NY Times:
The group has several goals beyond determining the safety of electronics on planes, according to an internal document that describes its objectives that was shown to The New York Times. Those include ensuring that flight attendants do not have to be the social police for which devices are acceptable during flight and determining what the term “airplane mode” really means. Finally, the group wants to ensure that whatever rules the agency announces apply to devices that are not on the market today.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a critic of the FAA’s current position against passengers’ use of electronics on planes, says she plans to introduce legislation to clarify the matter.
“So it’s O.K. to have iPads in the cockpit; it’s O.K. for flight attendants — and they are not in a panic — yet it’s not O.K. for the traveling public,” she tells the Times. “A flying copy of ‘War and Peace’ is more dangerous than a Kindle.”
In addition to the letter urging the FAA to move into the 21st Century, the FCC removed some regulatory roadblocks in order to make it easier for airlines to test and install on-board data connections.