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FAA says you can use electronic devices at any point on a flight

David Ludlow
31 Oct 2013
FAA
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Kindles, games consoles, laptops and phones can now be used during take-off

The US's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that airlines can now let passengers use portable electronic devices during all stages of a flight. That means that you'll no longer have to turn off your laptop or put away your Kindle during take-off and landing.

Taking input from a group of experts, including representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants and the mobile technology industry, the FAA found that electronic devices should be allowed once some criteria have been met.

Most importantly, airlines have to show that there airplanes can tolerate the radio interference signals from electronic devices. During the investigation it was shown that most commercial airplanes could, so there shouldn't be many problems here. The FAA will now issue clear guidelines to airlines to show how they can assess their fleet.

With the assessment done, airplanes that pass the tests will allow passengers to read eBooks, play games and watch videos on their devices. If the plane has on-board Wi-Fi, then this can be used during all stages of the flight, too. The only restriction that remains is that cellular devices, such as smartphones, must be switched into airplane mode and passengers are still barred from making telephone calls. One final restriction is that, under poor visibility, cabin crews can tell people to turn off devices during landing.

As the FAA governs US airlines, the new rules only apply to them. This means that you could potentially use an electronic device taking off from the UK on a US plane; however, you couldn't do the same flying on a UK plane from the US.

We spoke to the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which confirmed that the rules apply to the US only. A spokesperson told me that the CAA was aware of the new information and would be releasing a statement shortly. The CAA will also look into a similar relaxation of rules in the UK, running its own investigation.

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