FAA Expanding Use of Electronic Devices Throughout Flights

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(Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Federal Aviation Administration has determined that passengers can now use portable electronic devices such as e-readers, video players and video games throughout all stages of a flight.

Smartphones and tablets that connect to the internet will remain prohibited while the plane is less than 10,000 feet above ground, and phone calls are still prohibited throughout the flight process.

“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,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press release. “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.”

The FAA report concluded that most commercial planes can tolerate the radio interference signals that come from such devices. In rare instances of low-visibility during flights the crew will instruct passengers to deactivate such portable electronic devices (PEDS).

Some devices affect aircraft safety because their signals can occur at the same frequencies as highly sensitive navigation, communication and flight control equipment used by the pilots and air traffic controllers.

Voice communications via phone calls were not changed because the use of cell phones is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. The report states that cell phones “are designed to send out signals strong enough to be received at great distances.”

Bluetooth accessories are permitted, and many air carriers currently provide Wi-Fi service to passengers.

“I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use PEDs on airplanes,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

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