FAA Panel To Recommend Allowing Use Of Electronic Devices During Takeoff & Landing

Since last June, a Federal Aviation Administration Panel advisory panel has been gearing up to finalize its recommendation on how the agency could maybe perhaps allow the use of personal electronic devices during flights. That means you could be listening to music, texting, emailing and otherwise tapping away on your whathaveyou during landing and takeoff instead of gripping the armrests like your life depends on it. If that’s your thing, that is.

The FAA panel had until this month to finalize its recommendation and it appears it’s all set: The panel will recommend that the FAA tell airlines how to allow use of e-mail, text and Web surfing as well as allowing e-readers and MP3 players during takeoff and landing, a person familiar with the report told Bloomberg News.

It still won’t be okay to call anyone on your phone during flights, as the FAA maintains that phone signals can interfere with ground towers in cellular networks.

This is no casual recommendation tossed into the ring to appease grumpy customers — the panel has been collecting info on how to update the rules while also seeking public comment since January 2013.

“The FAA recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft. That is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions,” the FAA said in a statement. “We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps.”

Translation: No, you cannot jam out to Kenny Loggins during takeoff. Not yet. But it seems that day will come sooner rather than later.

WHO’S FOR IT?
Passengers, probably: A survey found four out of 10 airline travelers want to use personal devices during landing and takeoff, and about a third in the poll said they were guilty of accidentally leaving a device on when it shouldn’t be.

CTIA-The Wireless Association + Amazon: The Washington trade group represents mobile companies and banded together with the online retail giant to urge the FAA to relax the rules last year, saying personal electronics don’t cause interference.

Delta: Last year Delta said it was cool with wider use of electronics because its passengers wanted it.

WHO’S AGAINST?:
The Association of Flight Attendants: The largest U.S. flight-attendant union said in comments that it didn’t want passengers using the devices, because even if they don’t cause interference, devices could go flying in a crash. As such, they should be stowed like purses and handbags.

United: The airline said it would rather no changes go into place because they’d be too hard to enforce.

Electronic Device Use May Expand on U.S. Airline Flights [Bloomberg]