Thursday, October 31, 2013

FAA announces relaxed rules for electronics use during flights

As expected, the FAA on Thursday released new guidelines for the use of electronics on airliners, and as TechCrunch noted, the FAA expects that the relaxed rules will mean that passengers will be able to use their devices “in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.”

The rules may vary from airline to airline, though, the FAA said, as there are differences between the types of airliners involved and the carriers own rules. The changes amount to a relaxation of the formerly strict guidelines, but probably aren't loose enough for Alec Baldwin to start celebrating just yet.

To reiteratem, all devices must be in Airplane Mode or be otherwise disconnected during take-off, landing and taxiing, but passengers can use WiFi during the flight and continue to use Bluetooth accessories connected to the device.

The FAA's revised rules say (note that PED stands for Personal Electronic Device):
  1. Make safety your first priority.
  2. Changes to PED policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED.
  3. Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.
  4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.
  5. Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.
  6. Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.
  7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.
  8. It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.
  9. In some instances of low visibility – about one percent of flights – some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device.
  10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.
The changes come following months of speculation about the relaxation of such rules.

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