The agency said it believes many passengers will be able to safely use devices from gate to gate by the end of the year, as long as they are in "airplane mode," with cellular connections disabled. Some bulky electronics must still be put away for takeoff and landing, the
For passengers accustomed to constant connectivity, the reminders to power devices on and off can prove grating. At BWI on Thursday night,
"I think it's a reasonable idea," said Whitley, who was waiting for her husband to arrive to join her in visiting friends in
"Most commercial airlines can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices," he said at a news conference at
Cellphone calls and text messages will remain forbidden at any time during flight. They are separately banned over concerns that the signals may interfere with ground networks.
"I did feel that, like any regulation that has been around for a long time, the world has changed a lot in the last 50 years, so let's take a look," Huerta said. "And that's what we did."
Devices allowed on one fleet of aircraft may be prohibited on another under the new policy, and that may mean the speed of implementation will vary, Huerta said.
The bar for getting permission to expand electronics use will be higher if an airline wants its passengers to be able to surf the Internet while pilots land in zero visibility, which requires them to follow radio beams instead of seeing the runway.
Some instrument landing systems may never be qualified for operations while passengers read e-books or load web pages, Huerta said.
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