FAA expected to relax ban on gadgets on takeoffs and landings

Don't expect to make phone calls, though, even if e-readers and tablets approved for takeoff and landing

You might no longer have to worry whether you shut off that gadget as your plane takes to the sky. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Federal Aviation Administration -- in part to get with the times and in part because so many passengers don't actually shut down everything with an on/off switch -- will relax the blanket ban on some personal electronic devices below 10,000 feet.

The policy shift, which hasn't been officially announced yet, isn't expected to address phone usage, so it's unsure yet whether airplane mode would suffice, or whether you'll have to tuck away anything that doesn't look like a small tablet. And that could get interesting given that half of all new Android smartphones essentially are small tablets. It's also not yet known whether you'd have Wifi access during takeoff and landing.

A formal decision isn't expected until the fall.

Source: WSJ (paywall); photo courtesy Jason Rabinowitz 

Phil Nickinson
  • It's good to know that a basic knowledge of physics is finally overcoming superstitious fear of wireless voodoo somehow affecting an airplane's navigation system. Posted via Android Central App
  • You mean like the guy who hacked into the autopilot?
    The FAA bans all electronics because they don't have the budget to test every new piece of tech to see if it MIGHT create a problem.
    Is it so hard and unreasonable to go twenty minutes without your gadgets?
  • Quit being paranoid. There won't be any problems as I never turn my phone off anyway, that started back when I was flying with my Blackberry and reboots took ten minutes. It was just easier to turn it on silent and leave it that way. If someone genuinely wants to hack into a plane, do you really think a nagging flight attendant is going to disable their ability?
  • The point stands that the FAA chose to err on the side of caution and incredibly minor inconvenience. Of all the security and safety mumbojumbo the FAA and TSA put us through at an airport, turning our devices off for a little while rates about a 1.1 on a scale of 1-10.
  • Airlines did it to sell high-priced in=flight phones. It didn't work. Nobody used them. It's time to drop the charade.
  • Actually the FAA never really baned anything. If you read the FAA FAR on it you will see they leave it up to the airlines and pilot to decide if you can use them or not. Posted via Android Central App
  • 20 minutes? Where the hell do you fly out of? Even flying out of the tiny Tallahassee it's usually 30 mins or longer between door close and "you can now safely operate your electronic devices." Washington-Dulles, Charlotte, and, worst of all, Atlanta (my most common airports) are far worse. I get that they claim they don't want radio transmissions causing interference, but they also ban things like my noise-cancelling headphones which make it EASIER to understand their announcements over the engine and/or wind noise.
  • OMIGOD!!!!! :( 30 MINUTES without your device? How on earth do you ever manage!?!!?!? Suck it up you spoiled pansy.
  • You're on the wrong blog. Luddite Central is a different site but might be more your speed.
  • As someone who flies almost weekly, it would be nice just to listen to music for that mere 30 minutes, to drown out engine noise, loud/crying kids, etc. Looking at your icon, I see where you get your better than everyone, degrading attitude. Posted via Android Central App
  • RE the guy who made planesploit. Androidcentral already linked to a pilot's opinion of this http://www.androidcentral.com/actual-pilot-refutes-theoretical-takeover-... and the FAA dismissed concerns because they " determined that the hacking technique described during a recent computer security conference does not pose a flight safety concern because it does not work on certified flight hardware. The described technique cannot engage or control the aircraft’s autopilot system using the FMS or prevent a pilot from overriding the autopilot. Therefore, a hacker cannot obtain “full control of an aircraft” as the technology consultant has claimed. " http://www.securityweek.com/faa-dismisses-planesploit-creators-claims Long story short the simulator aren't upgraded with the same security as the actual flight epuipment.
  • That was a proof of concept hack on a virtual cockpit in a lab using Android as an interface. You would need a radio transmitter if you actually wanted to hack the plane's computer. In any event, if you have the skill and wherewithal to hack the autopilot while the plane is in flight, telling me to turn off my phone isn't going to stop you. Posted via Android Central App
  • Exactly, so many people who don't understand technology are in charge of how it's handled. My grandparents recently were looking into internet/computer setups for their business, and wanted to know if they could hard wire everything to "prevent people from driving up outside and putting things on their WiFi and computers that they didn't want."
  • Man, are you kidding me? You should be happy that your grandparents even understand that wireless security is an issue.
  • First, it's great that I may soon be able to continue to read a book, play a game, or watch a movie on my electronic device. However, the issue with that is, what happens if there is an unforeseen emergency. All those devices out could become additional missiles of destruction. Even though that would be few and far between due to the safety of air travel. Second, PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW TALKING ON PHONES ON THE PLANE. It's already loud enough from the ambient noise of air travel. I would rather not have some annoying idiot yelling into a phone to talk over the engines. Also, if they can talk on the phone, they could get a data connection which Gogo WiFi may not like much. Due to the rate of speed though, I'm not sure how well the phones would transfer between towers. Lastly, what airline is that in the picture?? I see Fiji on the water and pamphlets... That's a rather nice looking First Class. If only they'd start using perforated leather.
  • No joke. Talking on the phone in-flight needs to stay banned.
  • i guess you guys have never been on a plane with 200 phones attached to them? There are a lot of them still out there...
  • Yeah, but there's a reason they're going away: they cost a fortune to use, which means that they're only used when someone really, really needs to contact someone.
  • Nailed it.
  • Good luck talking on a flight, there won't be any cell service up there. More ignorance.
  • There will be if microcells are installed on planes.
  • In-flight wifi makes Skype, Facetime, etc possible.
  • VoIP too.
  • Um...tell that to the folks on United flight 93 that used their cell phones in-flight to call loved ones. More ignorance.
  • "All those devices out could become additional missiles of destruction. Even though that would be few and far between due to the safety of air travel." Funny, no one seems to have that fear when it comes to books. Or babies. Or anything else that is currently allowed to be in your hands/lap during takeoffs and landings. Way to sound like a ludite. Your other point is valid, however.
  • babies as missiles of destruction you just gave me a great idea for a mobile game
  • They probably don't use perforated leather for flammability and maintenance reasons. The leather itself is pretty flame retardant and water repellent, so you don't want some idiot who spills their drink on the cushion to actually get into the fire-blocking layer and foam inside.
  • Lastly, what airline is that in the picture?? I see Fiji on the water and pamphlets... That's a rather nice looking First Class. If only they'd start using perforated leather.
    I did a Goggle image search. That's Fiji Airways Business Class on an Airbus A330. Fiji Air does not offer a First Class.
  • Is this means that I can watch Air Crash Investigation on my big tablet while we are taking off and landing?
  • I'm partial to Alive.
  • The plane crash scene in Fight Club would also suffice. Pound for pound though, I think the plane crash in the movie "Fearless" is the most harrowing.
  • 1st class....hell yes. Only on business trips lol.
  • Is it not possible to comment on someone else's comment without berating them? What happened to discussions, it's like they don't exist anymore?
  • You just berated them yourself. Physician, heal thyself.
  • This is only natural progression. Airline pilots have been flying with ipads for a while now. Ive been flying with my Android tablet for years. Its great because I have all my charts on there and back up gps. And it has never interfered with my navigation or radios, so a passenger with one will be no different. Posted via Android Central App
  • The GoGo In Flight Wi-Fi is turned on at the gate, during taxiing, & i'm pretty sure during take off & landing. This shouldn't be that big of deal... just make it so Number 1...