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FAA: Airlines can expand use of personal electronic devices by Courtney Howard 31 Oct.13

WASHINGTON, 31 Oct. 2013. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta revealed today that airlines can safely expand passenger use of portable electronic devices (PEDs), including a wealth of popular handheld devices, such as Apple iPads and iPhones and Android smartphones, during all phases of flight. FAA officials are immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.

The implementation will vary among airlines due to differences among fleets and operations, officials say. Yet, the agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.

The FAA based its decision on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry.

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with limited exceptions:
- Electronic items, books, and magazines must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll.
- Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services.
- Passengers can continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

“We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights,” says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future.”

“I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use PEDs on airplanes,” explains FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The FAA is immediately giving airlines a clear path to safely expand PED use by passengers, and the Administrator will evaluate the rest of the ARC’s longer-term recommendations and respond at a later date.