Panel Votes To Ease Limits on Passenger Electronics

Experts find little danger of electronics use during takeoff and landing.

A technical advisory panel formed by the FAA earlier this year has recommended lifting the ban on the use of airline passenger’s personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing — with certain restrictions still in place.

In a vote that could ease limits on smartphone and laptop use as early as next year, the 28-member advisory committee endorsed changes last week and sent them Monday to the FAA, which will now consider easing prohibitions on the use of personal electronics.

If the FAA adopts the panel’s advice, passengers would be allowed to use most electronic devices below 10,000 feet, although they would have to be switched to airplane mode or have their Wi-Fi connections turned off. Transmitting data, surfing the Web and talking on cellphones would remain prohibited.

Airline passengers are required to turn off phones and other electronic devices below 10,000 feet to prevent interference with cockpit equipment. While some still have reservations about permitting passengers to keep electronics turned on during takeoff and landing, many applauded the panel’s recommendation as being long overdue.

“We’ve been fighting for our customers on this issue for years — testing an airplane packed full of Kindles, working with the FAA and serving as the device manufacturer on this committee,” Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement provided to Flying. “This is a big win for customers, and frankly, it’s about time.”

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