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FCC writes to the FAA about relaxing in-flight electronics rules

Perhaps sanity will prevail
Fri Dec 07 2012, 16:41
Plane in a storm

THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (FCC) is pushing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow more electronic devices to be used during flights.

The FAA currently imposes limits on what kinds of electronic devices can be used inside a plane during flight, restrictions that usually are justified to passengers as necessary to prevent possible interference with the aircraft's navigation systems. Now FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has called on the FAA to "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices".

Genachowski's letter, which was sent to the acting administrator of the FAA, Michael Huerta, said the two organisations should work together alongside the airlines and aeroplane makers to ensure that more devices can be used during flight. Genachowski said of electronic devices, "They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost US competitiveness."

The FAA has slowly been relaxing its rules on what devices can be used during flights, but it is getting harder to justify how electronic devices are even allowed on board if they pose a significant threat to safety. It has been looking into relaxing the rules about the use of electronic devices during flights but has so far ruled out looking into voice calls.

The FCC's push comes as airlines themselves are looking to deploy tablets to staff on flights, making the traditional interference argument even more tenuous. With the FCC pushing for a relaxation on in-flight electronic device rules, a reasonable approach to using devices on planes might be on the horizon. µ


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