Three months ago, we covered the FAA's advisory panel that would hopefully lighten up restrictions on electronics usage during flights, and on takeoff and touchdown. This week, we finally have an update on what was decided behind those closed cabin doors.
The 28-person FAA advisory committee voted to suggest to the FAA that the Administration reconsider not allowing passengers to use mobile devices, MP3 players and e-readers during takeoffs and landings. Of course, this is only a recommendation, and now the FAA will have to decide if the advisory panel's input makes sense or not. The good news is that if the FAA does go along with the recommendation, air travelers in the US will no longer have to follow the silly rule of turning anything with batteries off when the door of the plane is shut.
As of right now, even Airplane Mode doesn't suffice for your device, nor does leaving your e-ink reader in standby, even though it isn't drawing power. Yes, the government as a whole is still unsure of how technology is used. Hopefully this recommendation will change all of that. However, it is worth noting that some devices may actually have to use that Airplane Mode feature, as you will still not be able to transmit data over a radio network, surf the Web or talk on the phone. Basically, using your 4G LTE, WiMAX or 3G networks - anything that can send or receive outside data that isn't using the plane's WiFi - will still not be allowed.
As one analyst, Henry Harteveldt, put it so simply,
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.
Luckily, our elected officials in the Senate have been hard at working doing something other than play poker, and even some of them understand that listening to your music isn't going to blow up the plane (I can safely say that because I'm not on a plane right now). Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri stated it slightly better, and less explode-y. "These devices are not dangerous. Your Kindle isn't dangerous. Your iPad that is on airplane mode is perfectly safe," she said.
We could see restrictions lifted as early as 2014, however it will be up to the airlines to put these policies into place, which could take as long as they feel necessary to "review" the information. Senator McCaskill said she would create a law that would essentially force airlines to comply if they don't move fast enough on making the changes. My hopes are that by E3 of next year, if the event is still a bit relevant, I'll be able to mix down some last-minute audio clips on the plane while Scott finishes up our graphics for the convention coverage.