The FAA Rethinking That Whole Ban On Smartphone Usage In Flight Thing, Finally

There are two camps of people on flights — those who listen to the flight attendants when they’re told to turn off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing, and those who think the rule is hogwash and refuse to disconnect from the wireless world until they’re forced to. That second group is probably pleased as punch to hear then, that the Federal Aviation Administration is taking another gander at its rules about smartphones and other electronics, while still firmly to its ban on in-flight phone calls.

The FAA says it’s going to study up and check into the policies currently as place, look at its testing methods and what technological standards are with the help of a government-industry group, reports Bloomberg.

“We’re looking for information to help air carriers and operators decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today’s aircraft,” Michael Huerta, acting FAA administrator, said in the release.

The group is going to do its research for six months before reporting back to the FAA, and won’t even touch the idea of using phones to make voice calls during the flight. Which is probably still just fine with the majority of travelers who don’t want their neighbors yakking away for a five-hour flight.

Currently, FAA rules state that airlines have to make sure any radio-frequency interference from electronic devices won’t mess up the systems used to fly the plane, but that testing is expensive and would be a hard undertaking. Few have attempted to even start such studies, until now.

“The safety of our passengers and crews remains our top priority and our members will work cooperatively with the FAA on opportunities to evaluate personal electronic devices to ensure customers can use these products safely during flight,” Steve Lott, a spokesman for Airlines for America, said in an e-mail.

But now it seems the ball is rolling, and it could just end up rolling favorably for travelers and making it actually legal to be using iPads to take photos of bird strikes from the air or Instagramming some wacky cloud formations that everyone must see immediately.

Consumerist reader Dov points out that the FAA wants to know how you feel about this situation, with a few ways it’s offering to weigh in: Email your comments to PEDcomment@faa.gov; check out the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov; mail a letter to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001 or hey, even fax to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.

Previously: Federal Aviation Administration Might Let You Keep Your Kindle On

FAA To Study Smartphone Use While In-Flight Calls Banned [Bloomberg]