FAA Pondering Gate-To-Gate Policy For Gadgets On Airplanes

Soon, you may not have to stow that gadget when you’re on an airplane waiting to take off. A forthcoming report from a Federal Aviation Administration working group will likely recommend lifting the ban on the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the report will recommend the allowance of “gate to gate” gadget use, meaning you won’t have to pack away that book you are reading on your iPad or Kindle after you have taken your seat on an airplane. This will be a massive departure from almost the last 50 years of FAA policy that banned the use of electronic devices on flights fearing that emissions from the devices would play havoc with airplanes navigation instruments.

The report will specifically address the use of devices in low-altitude situations (below 10,000 feet) and recommend that they be used in “airplane mode.” Cellular phone calls will still likely be prohibited during take off and landing.

Gadgets are much different now than when the policy was created in 1966. The emissions from devices’ internal components are drastically less then they used to be – even from five to ten years ago – and wireless transmissions are now confined to defined, narrow spectrums.

The report will likely recommend three types of gadget regulations in place of the current ban during takeoff and landing based on the type and age of the aircraft and how well it has met certain regulations. Older aircraft with limited protections will continue with a similar pre-flight announcement that flyers are used to hearing, telling them when it is OK to switch on their devices. On the other end of the spectrum, planes that have met all safety regulations will announce that, "This aircraft tolerates emissions from electrical devices for all phases of flight." Other planes will allow gate-to-gate use of gadgets unless specifically told not to do so by the flight crew.

The report will urge the FAA to set standards that new planes be able to handle most, if not all, gadget use by 2015.

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