New guidelines may allow reading e-books such as Kindles, listening to podcasts and watching videos. But some activities needing Wi-Fi, as well as making cellphone calls, are expected to remain off-limits.
The existing rules, which have remained essentially the same since the 1960s, are being changed to reflect changing technology. Previously, the
According to an
He draws the line at allowing cellphones. "The idea of listening to some guy talking on his cellphone for a two-hour flight would be a deal breaker for me," Vandy said. "IPad yes, cellphone no."
The changes likely will go into effect next year after the panel recommends the new rules, although the
Last year, the
The partial lifting of the ban is not a big surprise, said
Although airline pilots have reported anecdotal evidence of electronic devices causing cockpit instrument problems, definitive findings have been lacking.
For years, many people have not been shutting off devices -- either deliberately or accidentally ignoring the rules.
"Very few people are fully complying with the existing regulations," Hobica said.
Aviation experts believe that the most popular electronic devices use too little power to interfere with the plane's cockpit controls. But for some safety advocates and airline attendants, the issue with laptops and tablets is their ability to turn into lethal projectiles in the event of turbulence.
Relaxing the rules may result in unintended consequences, according to some experts. "It was a lot simpler for attendants to be able to say 'Shut everything off.' This may make their jobs harder," Hobica said.
"As a mom, I always want to be able to say those last-minute goodbyes and make sure the plane took off safely," Phillips said.
Local airline expert
He thinks it's the right decision not to allow cellphones in flight, at least not yet. "Otherwise, I think we'll be seeing fistfights in the cabin," he said.
"I do as much work as I can for as long as I can," he said, "but it's nice to be able to get a two- or three-hour break."
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