But mobile phone usage will remain restricted
The US Federal Aviation Administration has announced an end to its five-decade ban on the use of electronic devices throughout the duration of flights. But mobile phone use is still restricted.
Use of electronic devices during taxiing, take-off and landing will be permitted, the FAA said – but not with immediate effect. The changes will take effect on most airlines by the end of 2013.
“I am pleased to announce that airlines can safely expand passenger use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight,” Michael Huerta, FAA administrator, said at a press conference at Washington’s Reagan National Airport.
The use of mobile phones will continue to be banned during flight, but passengers will be able to use smartphones, tablets and e-readers in “airplane mode”.
A committee convened last year to study the effects of electronics use on airliners. Pilots, passengers, cabin crew, aircraft manufacturers and mobile technology experts all contributed to the study.
“The committee determined that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices. It is safe to read downloaded materials like e-books and calenderers and also to play games,” Huerta explained.
But in exceptional conditions of low visibility or poor weather, in which some landing systems are not proven to tolerate this interference, passengers may be asked to switch off their electronic devices.
[pictured: Acer’s 4.8-inch Android smartphone]