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FAA looks at changing its rules for in-flight device usage

An end to baseless interference claims
Tue Aug 28 2012, 17:29
Plane in a storm

THE UNITED STATES Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is taking another look at when electronic devices can be used during flight.

The FAA has asked airlines for their views on electronic device usage during flights. According to the FAA it will investigate what tests airlines conduct on devices to determine usage rules and consider establishing standards to allow electronic devices to be used at any stage of flight.

The FAA is consulting airlines on whether these is a need for new aircraft designs to shield against electronic devices and whether device manufacturers that have devices certified for use during flights should share data. The FAA also said that it wants to look at whether airlines should publish its device usage policies for travelers.

Michael Huerta, acting FAA administrator said, "We're looking for information to help air carriers and operators decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today's aircraft. We also want solid safety data to make sure tomorrow's aircraft designs are protected from interference."

The ban on using electronic devices during certain stages of flight as being a safety risk has long been debated. While airlines can make extra money by charging for services like airphones, there is very little data presented to the public that suggests safety is affected by the use of devices such as mobile phones or tablets with WiFi connectivity, and common sense suggests that if these devices posed such a major safety risk then they would not be allowed to be taken aboard in carryon luggage the first place.

Nevertheless, the FAA's request for airlines to come forward and discuss the issue of device usage on aircraft holds out the hope that the ridiculous rules on turning off devices for takeoff and landing might be removed in the future.

The FAA said that its Request for Comments will appear in the Federal Register on 28 August. µ


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