FAA allowing most electronic device use throughout flights - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

FAA allowing most electronic device use throughout flights

Posted: Updated:

Airplane travelers will soon be able to watch videos and play games with their electronic devices throughout their entire flight -- and not just above a certain altitude -- the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday in a long anticipated announcement.

But don't expect to be chatting on your cell phone. A ban on using cell phones for voice communication remains in effect.

The FAA, following months of study by a group of aviation experts, said Thursday that airlines can soon allow passengers to use portable electronic devices such as tablets, laptop computers, e-readers and cell phones in airplane mode throughout the flight -- with some circumstantial restrictions.

Until now, passengers in the United States were prohibited from using the devices until their plane rose above 10,000 feet. The timing of the changes will depend on individual airlines, but an FAA statement said it 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."

"Each airline will determine how and when this will happen," FAA administrator Michael Huerta told reporters Thursday morning at Reagan Washington National Airport.

The periods of flight in question are fairly short. The ascent of an aircraft to 10,000 feet usually takes 10 minutes or less, depending on the airport and weather conditions, said Patrick Smith, a commercial airline pilot and Askthepilot blogger.

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways wasted no time announcing Thursday morning that both airlines have filed plans with the FAA to allow for use of approved electronic devices below 10,000 feet on their flights. Both carriers had representatives on the FAA advisory panel.

The FAA also permits the use of in-flight Wi-Fi service if the airline offers and allows it. Delta said its service will continue to be available above 10,000 feet.

The FAA had long claimed that using electronic devices during takeoff and landing posed a safety issue and that radio signals from the devices could interfere with an aircraft's communications, navigation and other systems.

But a panel the FAA established last year to study the issue concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals.

Before an airline switches to the relaxed rules, it will have to prove to the FAA that its aircraft can tolerate the interference. Airlines have, over the years, built newer planes with portable electronics in mind, hardening them against electromagnetic interference.

The FAA did outline an exception to the new rule: "In some instances of low visibility -- about one percent of flights -- some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device."

An airline pilots union that participated in revising the rules voiced support Thursday for the requirement that airlines prove their fleet's tolerance to signal interference, but expressed reservations about traveler compliance.

"We remain concerned that relying on passengers to selectively turn off their devices in areas of extremely poor weather is not a practical solution," the Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement.

Enforcing the policy

Flight attendants' hard jobs just got harder, said travel blogger Johnny "Jet" DiScala. That's because they'll have to ensure that passengers are only using devices in "aircraft safe" mode, not downloading anything from the Internet.

"No one turns their devices off anymore," DiScala says. "I don't say anything (to fellow passengers about turning them off) these days because all the studies have shown that it doesn't cause any problems, and the pilots are now using stuff (iPads and other electronic devices) in the cockpit."

The Association of Flight Attendants expressed some concerns, asking in a statement that testing be streamlined to ensure that "airplanes can tolerate electromagnetic interference" from passenger devices. Development of crew training and passenger messaging is also needed to ensure passengers pay attention to safety messages from flight attendants, the union said.

Benefits for travelers, electronics manufacturers

It's no surprise that advocates for the travel and electronics industries cheered the easing of the restrictions on devices during flight.

"We're pleased the FAA recognizes that an enjoyable passenger experience is not incompatible with safety and security," Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. "What's good for the traveler is good for travel-related businesses and our economy."

Travel blogger Brett Snyder said he expects a lot of consumer satisfaction related to the new policy.

"This is exactly what travelers have wanted," said Snyder, the Cranky Flier columnist, via e-mail. "It will, however, mean people have more distracting them from paying attention during the safety briefing, so airlines are going to really have to step up their game to make sure people understand how to be as safe as possible."

In early October, the Consumer Electronics Association announced support for an FAA committee recommendation that passengers generally be allowed to use typical lightweight electronic devices at all altitudes of flight on airplanes hardened against radio interference.

About 69% of passengers traveling with an e-device reported using their devices on a flight, and almost one-third of passengers admitted to accidentally leaving one on in flight, according to a 2013 CEA/Airline Passenger Experience Association study.

  • South Dakota man sentenced for scissor attack in North Dakota

    South Dakota man sentenced for scissor attack in North Dakota

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:37 AM EDT2014-07-31 15:37:23 GMT
    A South Dakota man has been sentenced to six years in prison for attacking a female store clerk with a pair of scissors in the southeastern North Dakota city of Wahpeton.More >>
    A South Dakota man has been sentenced to six years in prison for attacking a female store clerk with a pair of scissors in the southeastern North Dakota city of Wahpeton.More >>
  • First plea agreements signed in lottery scam case

    First plea agreements signed in lottery scam case

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:45 AM EDT2014-07-31 10:45:07 GMT
    Three people have agreed to plead guilty in a Jamaican Lottery Scam targeting elderly victims in the Dakotas and elsewhere.More >>
    Three people have agreed to plead guilty in a Jamaican Lottery Scam targeting elderly victims in the Dakotas and elsewhere.
    More >>
  • Orchestra plans statehood performance in Capitol

    Orchestra plans statehood performance in Capitol

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:31 AM EDT2014-07-31 10:31:06 GMT
    Classical music lovers can mark South Dakota's 125th anniversary of statehood and see what the state says will be the first full orchestra performance in the Capitol with more than 50 members.More >>
    Classical music lovers can mark South Dakota's 125th anniversary of statehood and see what the state says will be the first full orchestra performance in the Capitol with more than 50 members.
    More >>
  • Runners ready to fight off zombies

    Runners ready to fight off zombies

    Thursday, July 31 2014 5:03 AM EDT2014-07-31 09:03:17 GMT
    It's a 4 kilometer run with over 40 obstacles along the way. If that's not enough, runners will be fighting off zombies too. Things like climbing walls, mud pits and a corn maze full of zombies will all be found on the course for the Z Warrior Run Saturday.More >>
    It's a 4 kilometer run with over 40 obstacles along the way. If that's not enough, runners will be fighting off zombies too. Things like climbing walls, mud pits and a corn maze full of zombies will all be found on the course for the Z Warrior Run Saturday.More >>
  • Sioux Falls home vandalized

    Sioux Falls home vandalized

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:30 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:30:34 GMT
    Gang graffiti has been in Sioux Falls for years. Police determined some tags from 2012 were gang related. Former City Councilor Vernon Brown's house has been hit twice in that many years.More >>
    Gang graffiti has been in Sioux Falls for years. Police determined some tags from 2012 were gang related. Former City Councilor Vernon Brown's house has been hit twice in that many years.More >>
  • KSFY Newsmakers: Ronald McDonald House serving hundreds of families

    KSFY Newsmakers: Ronald McDonald House serving hundreds of families

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-07-31 03:26:58 GMT
    They thought they would have enough space for years, instead they are near capacity nearly all the time.More >>
    They thought they would have enough space for years, instead they are near capacity nearly all the time.
    More >>
  • Flooded Luverne farmer gets second chance

    Flooded Luverne farmer gets second chance

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:42:33 GMT
    The flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded.  It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmerThe flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded. It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmer
    The flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded.  It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmer.More >>
    The flooding in Luverne over Father's Day weekend left a lot of homes and parks flooded.  It also flooded a lot of farmland. Just a couple days after the heavy rain, KSFY spoke to an area farmer who lost most of his crops. We check back in with one farmer.More >>
  • Feeding South Dakota Prepares for a Record Year

    Feeding South Dakota Prepares for a Record Year

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:36 PM EDT2014-07-31 02:36:29 GMT
    Wednesday night a group of 20 volunteers spent part of their evening assembling 400 backpacks for Feeding South Dakota's backpack program. 400 is a big number but it's just a portion of a larger plan.More >>
    Wednesday night a group of 20 volunteers spent part of their evening assembling 400 backpacks for Feeding South Dakota's backpack program. 400 is a big number but it's just a portion of a larger plan.
    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KSFY. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service or our EEO Report.