FAA pushed to let people play with their gizmos, aloft

Posted by a staff writer

We would cautiously propose that accidentally leaving your phone on doesn't frequently make planes fall from the sky, but now the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reportedly considering letting passengers keep their electronics on.

Turning off electronics is generally more of an inconvenience to airline staff who are bound by their jobs to prod stubborn passengers, but the FAA may save them the trouble by the end of the year. According to a group that works with the FAA, rules may be relaxed on reading devices only - so you'll still have to switch your phone off.

A member of this group and an FAA deepthroat, under anonymity, told the New York Times that the agency is "under tremendous pressure" to either allow passengers to use reading devices or at least to scientifically explain why they can't.

Bookish frequent flyers are increasingly using electronics for reading, like the Kindle or the iPad, because they're often lighter than a book and can store plenty of them on a single device. Although they can't compete with the old fashioned charm of a well thumbed paperback, you can't play non-literary anti-classics like Fruit Ninja on a bestseller.

The industry working group tasked with a solution includes Boeing, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Federal Communicatiosn Commission, and aircraft makers - tellingly it also has on its roster the Consumer Electronics Association and Amazon.

According to a summary document from the group, seen by the New York Times, as well as letting passengers read prod-free, it also wants to stop flight attendants from having to be the "social police".

It's hoped the existing regulations will be replaced by a concise, single new approach.

As the NY Times points out, as the wearable electronics trend looks to be on the up-and-up, flight attendants won't be keen to tell passengers to turn off their glasses or shut down their watch.