The FAA announces airplane travelers will be able to use electronic devices throughout their entire flight very soon. A statement made by the FAA said it expects “many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.”
Until now, airplane passengers in the U.S. were unable to use electronic devices until the plane rose above 10,000 feet; however, passengers will now be able to use their devices at all times. There will still be certain restrictions; talking on cell phones will still be prohibited. Also, in certain instances such as bad weather and low visibility, passengers will still be asked to turn off all electronic devices.
“The FAA had long claimed that using electronic devices during takeoff and landing posed a safety issue and that radio signals from the devices could interfere with an aircraft’s communications, navigation and other systems. But a panel the FAA established last year to study the issue concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals.”
Many people are discussing the fact that large numbers of passengers leave their devices turned on at all times anyway. A study conducted by the CEA/Airline Passenger Experience Association in 2013 discovered that about one-third of passengers admitted to leaving their electronic devices on during landing and takeoff and that 69 percent of passengers admitted to using their devices during restricted time periods.
There are both positives and negatives to this change in regulation. On a positive note, passengers will be able to enjoy watching movies, listening to music or playing games on their devices for the entire flight without interruption. “We’re pleased the FAA recognizes that an enjoyable passenger experience is not incompatible with safety and security. What’s good for the traveler is good for travel-related businesses and our economy,” Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, said.
However, concerns about this change in regulation have raised many questions. Some believe flight attendants’ jobs will become harder since they will have to make sure all passengers are using their devices in “airplane” mode, not talking on cell phones and not downloading items from the internet. Also, passengers may not listen to safety instructions and demonstrations if they are distracted by their electronic devices. Most importantly, concerns about the practicality of passengers turning off electronic devices in certain instances when asked have been raised.
Each airline will individually determine when this loose regulation will take effect and some airlines, such as Delta Air Lines and JetBlue, have already announced that they have filed plans with the FAA to allow this change.