In an announcement that all airplane passengers will love, a FAA panel endorsed the easing of restrictions on the use of personal electronics during flights even when planes are on the ground or below 10,000 feet in altitude. More specifically, they want to ease restrictions on using electronics in a way that doesn’t communicate outside the plane below 10,000 feet. So you will soon be free to use your kindle, listen to music, watch movies, and play video games at all times during your flight. You still won’t be allowed to access the internet below 10,000 feet nor will you be allowed to send or receive phone calls or text messages at any point during your flight.
The FAA’s restrictions on personal electronics use originated in the 1950s when it was discovered that passengers bringing radios on their flights interfered with the navigation equipment in the cockpit. The same thing happened when the use of cell phones became widespread and using them on planes is still banned to this day. The FAA though has been gradually easing off restrictions on electronics use especially since both plane and electronics manufacturers have been designing their products so that they don’t interfere with one another. Planes today now have in-flight wi-fi while tablets and smartphones have airplane modes. In a recent stunt Amazon loaded up a passenger airliner full of kindles turned on to see if it affected the flight instruments, which it didn’t.
It turns out that airlines are welcoming this news too. Part of a flight attendant’s job is enforcing the rules and the current rules about personal electronics are difficult to enforce. A rule that has very little scientific backing and is difficult to justify that is openly broken by many travelers leads to unnecessary tensions between airlines and customers that both would like to avoid. Airlines would much rather have their flight attendants spend their time enhancing the customer experience rather than confronting passengers for breaking a silly rule. Also when you have a rule about safety that is widely ignored it undermines all of the other important rules about safety. For all of these reasons the FAA panel recommended easing restrictions and everyone involved will be happy when they’re all finally gone.
That is the only business I can think of that will be disappointed by this news.
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