In the fall of 2012, the FAA announced plans to study the use of portable electronic devices in flight -- a provess which will reportedly take until March of this year to complete. And last month, it was reported that the head of the FCC wrote to the head of the FAA requesting that the rules over the use of electronic devices in-flight be relaxed.
As the Associated Press reported last fall:
Smartphones and tablet computers are common in the passenger cabin, and pilots are using iPads in the cockpit. But passengers have to shut off electronic devices when the plane is below 10,000 feet because of worries that signals emitted by the devices might interfere with electronics in the cockpit.
The FAA doesn't actually ban the devices. But it says airlines can only allow devices that have been tested and proven not to interfere with the plane's electronics. With thousands of devices on the market and new ones coming out each day, airlines simply ban them all during takeoff and landing.
The FAA will form a committee this fall to study the issue for six months and then make recommendations. The FAA often uses such Aviation Rulemaking Committees when it is considering changes, and their deliberations often last months, sometimes years.
The discussion of in-flight use of portable electronics has been going on for years.
Alec Baldwin raised a stir in December 2011 when he played "Words With Friends" while at the gate on an American Airlines flight; he later blogged for The Huffington Post about his confusion over the use of cell phones while still on the ground. Also in December 2011, The Scientific American looked at 10 facts all fliers should know about electronics on flights.
In May 2012, Virgin Atlantic announced that they would allow passengers to partake in cell phone calls in "exceptional situations." Last fall, Emirates Airlines said they would allow passengers on their A380s to use cell phones in flight (albeit not within 250 miles of the U.S. coastline).
With all the confusion over the use of electronics in flight, the debate only continues to heat up with passengers, flight attendants and pilots weighing in. Check out the HuffPost Live segment for more.
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