Frequent fliers in the United States are likely breathing a collective sigh of relief as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today it would allow the use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight.
Previously, devices had to be turned off and stowed during both takeoff and landing.
In a release, the FAA said it “based its decision on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants and the mobile technology industry.”
The experts concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from electronic devices. According to the FAA, there may be rare instances of low-visibility during which the crew will instruct passengers to turn off their devices during landing.
“We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future.”
Talking on a cell phone during a flight will still be banned, as the FAA said they differ from most devices in that they are designed to send out signals strong enough to be received at great distances.
Passengers can still use smartphones for listening to music, playing games or watching videos, but the phone must be in “airplane mode.”
Changes to electronic device policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline, the FAA said.
U.S. carrier Delta already issued a statement saying it hoped to begin allowing the use of devices as early as tomorrow, pending FAA approval.