FAA to review rules on in-flight use of devices

The Federal Aviation Administration is reassessing its rules about the use of portable electronic devices on airplanes, seeking public comments and forming a government-industry group to study when the devices can be used safely.

Currently, passengers are required to power down laptops, tablets, phones, e-readers and other devices during takeoff and landing and while the plane is reaching its cruising altitude. The rules are designed to prevent interference with navigation and other onboard systems. Phones and other devices that access cellular networks are banned throughout flights.

The panel being formed to look at the issue anew will include representatives from airlines, mobile companies and aviation manufacturers, as well as pilot, flight attendant and passenger groups, the FAA said.

In meetings over the next six months, the group will look at airlines' safety-testing methods and consider new standards for in-flight use of devices. Public comments will be accepted for two months.

Jot Carpenter, an executive with the mobile industry group CTIA, said that use of portable devices during "the whole flight" should "absolutely be allowed," because studies have shown that devices don't interfere with aviation systems.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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