Using your electronic devices on planes

By | Category: Travel news

Expect to see changes soon over what you can and cannot use on flights. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced relaxations on what we might use when we are in-flight. And what happens in America often becomes the norm for airline companies worldwide.

Once individual airlines and national authorities agree, passengers should be able to use e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight. There will be some very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual take-off and landing roll. Mobile phones should be in aeroplane mode or with service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications. If the airline provides wi-fi service during flight, this can be used. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

The issue up until now is the thought that electronic interference from hand-held electronic devices will interfere with the aeroplanes electronics with all the consequences that might occur. Recent work has suggested this view may be over-stated and research has been under way by both airlines and providers of these devices to assess their impact.

In a recent report submitted to the FAA it recommended that airlines with new procedures are assessed to see if their planes can tolerate radio interference. Once an airline verifies the tolerance of its fleet, it can allow passengers to use handheld, lightweight electronic devices – such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones—at all altitudes. In rare instances of low-visibility, the crew will instruct passengers to turn off their devices during landing. The report also recommended that heavier devices should be safely stowed under seats or in overhead bins during takeoff and landing.

The next issue – particularly as it applies to mobile phones – is how to stop them being an irritant to other passengers. With there be quiet zones? Will passengers wishing to use a mobile be directed to a particular area? Will some airlines ban mobiles on the grounds of passenger annoyance and promote themselves as “quiet” airlines?

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