FAA to consider lifting gadget ban on take-off and landing in US

The Federal Aviation Administration in the US is to consider a recommendation that it ease restrictions on using smartphones, tablets, eBook readers and other gadgets during take-off and landing in the country.

A 28-member advisory committee will submit the recommendation to the FAA on Monday after it agreed to press on with the proposal. It would allow passengers on aircraft in the US to use their devices in airplane mode under 10,000 feet - passengers are currently required to switch off their phones, tablets and other tech under that height. Downloading data, surfing the web and talking on the phone would still not be allowed.

As reported by the Associated Press, airline and travel analyst Henry Harteveldt explained which uses would be permitted should the FAA enforce with the recommendation.

"You will not be able to play Words With Friends. You will not be able to shop. You will not be able to surf websites or send email," he said.

"You will be able to read or work on what's stored on the device. You want to edit that PowerPoint? Great. You want to watch Breaking Bad and you have it downloaded to your smartphone or your tablet? You can continue to do that."

Amazon claims that it is about time the FAA changed the rules. "We've been fighting for our customers on this issue for years - testing an airplane packed full of Kindles, working with the FAA and serving as the device manufacturer on this committee," said spokesman Drew Herdener.

"This is a big win for customers and, frankly, it's about time."

US senator Claire McCaskill agrees. "These devices are not dangerous. Your Kindle isn't dangerous. Your iPad that is on airplane mode is perfectly safe," she said.

It will be interesting, should the FAA lift the restrictions, to see whether other countries' aviation organisations follow suit. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both allow passengers to watch their seat-back in-flight entertainment during take-off and landing, but only when using the airlines' own headsets. Brits are still not allowed to use their devices until planes are in the air.




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