FAA greenlights use of gadgets during nearly all phases of flight

By , Oct 31, 2013

iOS 7 (Airplane Mode 001)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally relaxed its restrictions on the use of personal electronics devices (PED) such as iPhones and iPads on commercial flights. Going forward, the FAA will allow airlines to expand use of personal electronics during nearly all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.

Although the FAA has finally determined that smartphones and tablets have a minimal impact on the airplane’s electronic systems, pilots of course are barred from using gadgets for personal reasons at any time during aircraft operations.

The new rules apply to both domestic and international flights and restrict passengers to using their devices in airplane mode only most of the time, so no voice calls during a flight.

Additionally, you will still be required to turn off your devices completely during specific situations such as a landing in reduced visibility to make sure they don’t interfere with onboard communications and navigation equipment.

According to FAA’s FAQ, each airline will review its carry-on baggage policy to determine how the expanded use of PEDs impacts its current program.

For example, if the operator’s current program requires all PEDs to be stowed for take-off and landing, and the operator expands use to those phases, the operator would have to change that program to allow acceptable PEDs to remain out and secured.

FAA’s press release states that short-range Bluetooth connections and in-flight Wi-Fi services are also allowed during a flight. Keep in mind that the new regulations still require that personal electronics, books and magazines be held or put in the seat-back pocket during takeoff and landing.

The agency provide the following check list for passengers:

  1. Make safety your first priority.
  2. Changes to PED policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED.
  3. Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.
  4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.
  5. Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.
  6. Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.
  7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.
  8. It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.
  9. In some instances of low visibility – about one percent of flights – some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device.
  10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.

The new rules should be implemented by the end of the year so contact your airline for a specific timeline and/or exemptions.

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  • Markus Hudobnik

    Finally! I was that person who used their electronics anyways, though. Now I don’t have to hide it!

    • http://hashuumi.tumblr.com/ Hisham

      Me too … :p

  • LePlague

    How will this work for data?
    So now I can have my phone but if my verizon signal just happens to pop up can I surf the web without the planes wifi?

    • Bigchamp

      Your phone or tablet must stay in airplane mode but you are allowed to use wifi and bluetooth. Airplane mode prevents your phone from receiving a cellular signal.

      • LePlague

        Yes but my question is; if I am able to get service, why can’t I use it?

        I should have phrased my first statement differently my apologizes.

      • VWH

        Because as stated they must remain in airplane mode. The ability to get service isn’t the issue.

      • LePlague

        You didn’t answer the question of WHY? Is it so I have to pay for their crummy wifi? Even though I get 3G/4G while in air.

      • Joseph A. Ahmad

        It’s so your cellular signal does not interfere with the plane’s wireless communication system. The phone may not interefering at all but just to be safe.

      • BigVinnieG

        Where? What planes do you fly on that stay low enough to get service.

      • Bigchamp

        Its no so much the altitude you are flying at, as it is about how fast you are flying because you will bounce between towers about every minute.

  • Rowan09

    This doesn’t make sense because the purpose of Airplane was exactly for the purpose stated. How is this any different? I thought they were allowing voice calls which would be interesting.

  • BigVinnieG

    So what’s the difference? You had to turn them off when taking off or landing. And you a fool to not turn off cellular when flying. I fly all over the country and once your at altitude you get no service.

  • VWH

    If there is a potential safety issue, no matter if its a low probability, you would rather risk the safety of others just so you can avoid using wifi?

    • LePlague

      If you really think there is an issue explain to me while the FAA allows it on our person.

      If the FAA REALLY thought that is a possibility that it can screw with the plane there is no way the would allow it.

      They would make us check it in with them and get it after the flight.

      If the FAA doesn’t allow a normal size spray can to my list listirine unless in a ziplock bag. Why on earth would they allow people to carry a cellphone which has the possibility to BRING DOWN THE PLANE. If there was a real issue we wouldn’t be aloud to carry them. Think about it.

      • LePlague

        Cant edit for some reason so ignore some of the spelling and allowed*

      • 9JordanMiller2

        That actually makes sense I haven’t even thought of it that way

      • LePlague

        Thank you.

  • JaeM1llz

    How is this any different? Electronics have already been cleared for use during “nearly all phases of flight” for as long as I can remember. You can use them as soon as you hit cruising altitude and as soon as you land.