Under today's Federal Aviation Administration regulations, established in the early 1990s, passengers are not allowed to use portable electronic devices (PED) until the plane reaches 10,000 feet. Those same devices then have to be turned off for landings.
But times have changed. "That is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions,” the FAA said in a statement
posted online Friday. “At the group's request, the FAA has granted a two-month extension to complete the additional work necessary for the safety assessment."
The Aviation Rulemaking Committee
(ARC) for Portable Electronic Devices, the group created to study this issue, is expected to submit its report detailing recommendations for allowing PED throughout the entire flight to the FAA in September.
"Once the ARC recommendations are delivered, it is within the discretion of the Administrator and the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety to determine when and how the report of the ARC is released to the public," a study report said
But there's one topic the 28 member group will not touch: the airborne use of cell phones for voice calls during flight. The Federal Communication Commission regulations prohibit the use of cellular devices while in-flight.
Nervertheless, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who wrote the FAA in December, noting the "absurdity" of the FAA restrictions on PEDs, welcomed the good news, according to STL Today.
“It’s good to see the FAA may be on the verge of acknowledging what the traveling public has suspected for years — that current rules are arbitrary and lack real justification,” she said in a statement
Decades ago the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission determined that electronic devices could send signals that would interfere with the equipment on an airplane, The Chicago Tribune