Anyone who has been on a plane in recent years has been through this seemingly archaic process: once the flight is about to take off, you have to turn off your phones, tablets, laptops, and any other mobile devices until the plane is well into the air. Then, you have to do the same thing when the conveyance is about to land.
Well, that’s about to change, as the Federal Aviation Administration has made the decision to no longer require airlines to force passengers to turn off their mobile devices in this way during takeoff and landing. The move is explored in detail in a new report from the New York Times. The article includes information on what passengers can expect in the future and the possible safety ramifications of the new policy.
In the past, electronic devices were shut off due to their suspected potential to disrupt the electronic mechanisms of an airplane, particularly navigation. But as both mobile and airplane technology have progressed rapidly over the past years and decades, many commuters began to wonder whether the annoyance of turning off their phone was really having an impact on safety.
The FAA’s decision to alter the mobile device requirement is a move that many had been clamoring for for years. It only took about a month after an advisory committee recommendation that the agency made this ultimate decision, which has drawn cheers from just about everyone connected to the commercial airline industry.
It’s important to note, though, that this doesn’t mean if you have a flight today that you can just brazenly use your laptop as the plane is taking off and landing. Each airline still has to present a plan to the FAA on how they’re going to implement the new rule. That plan will need to include the results of tests designed to gauge how an airline’s equipment can tolerate the increased connectivity.
There are still going to be some limits to electronics usage. For instance, cellular and internet-ready devices will need to be switched over to airplane mode, at least until the plane is well into the air and its own WiFi has been activated. Each airline will have to come up with rules on stowing the devices in the proper space while the flight is landing or taking off. Passengers will also be required to turn off the items while flight attendants are briefing them on the safety precautions to take should an emergency occur.
The FAA’s administrator has said that around 1% of planes could still be negatively affected by interference from a mobile device, and therefore this new rule will not quite go into effect across the board. He said that passengers could have to turn off their devices amid such circumstances.