This has taken way too long for the FAA to figure out, but finally, it looks like we’ll be able to use electronic devices on our airplanes.
An advisory committee recently told the FAA that it was safe to use “handheld devices” from gate to gate on all flights. Those handheld devices would presumably include:
-Portable gaming devices
That means you would be able to access the on-board Wi-Fi networks that are now available on a growing number of airlines.
This wasn’t some random advisory committee that won’t have any effect on the industry. Instead, the committee was created by the FAA and included some major industry players, including Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, Paul Misener. Misener spoke to the Wall Street Journal and was the one who revealed the “gate-to-gate use” comment.
What’s the catch?
Today, most current aircraft are resilient to electronic interference, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely free to use your mobile phone for your entire flight. Your voice and data cellular plans would still be banned, which means that airplane mode isn’t going away any time soon.
If you’re mad about still using airplane mode, then don’t get mad at the FAA, get mad at the FCC: the FCC implemented that rule to avoid disruption to networks on the ground. If you did turn your cell phone on while in the air, it would just jump between cell network towers on the ground and drain battery life at an alarming rate.
Under the new proposed rules, full-size laptops will still have to be stowed away during takeoff. The FAA is concerned that large devices like laptops could fly through the air during takeoff and landing turbulence and hurt someone.
It’s not clear when the FAA will officially make a ruling on this matter, or which airlines would be the first to adopt it, but I would certainly be happy to never hear “Sir, please turn off your e-reader” ever again. It doesn’t even use a Wi-Fi signal!