Expected FAA move long overdue
By the end of this month, a Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel is expected to recommend removing most restrictions on using mobile devices on airplanes, the New York Times is reporting.
Airline passengers will be able to use their mobile devices to read e-books or other publications, listen to podcasts and watch video, according to members of an advisory panel set up to review the FAA's restrictions on mobile device use.
However, the prohibition on using Wi-Fi and sending or receiving emails and text messages during takeoff and landing is expected to remain, as well as the prohibition on making phone calls during the flight, panel members told the newspaper.
The advisory group, which first met in January, includes representatives from Amazon, the Consumer Electronics Association, Boeing, the Association of Flight Attendants and the Federal Communications Commission. It was scheduled to release its finding by July 31, but that deadline has been extended to the end of this month.
There is little empirical evidence that the use of electronic devices interferes with cockpit instrumentation, even during takeoff and landing. As the Times noted, the evidence is anecdotal, primarily from airline pilots who are not trained in the intricacies of radio spectrum interference.
In addition, airline pilots and attendants are increasingly using smartphones and tablets on-board aircraft for various functions, including credit card processing.
"So it's OK to have iPads in the cockpit; it's OK for flight attendants--and they are not in a panic--yet it's not OK for the traveling public. A flying copy of 'War and Peace' is more dangerous than a Kindle," commented Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who vowed earlier this year to introduce legislation for the FAA to ease its restrictions if the agency does not act on its own.
All I can say is, the proposed changes are long overdue and, in fact, don't go far enough. But frustrated business travelers like myself will take what we can get. - Fred