FAA urged to allow portable devices during takeoff

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski is urging the aviation industry to get a move on and start allowing mobile devices to be used during takeoff and landing.

In a letter to Federal Aviation Administration acting chief Michael Huerta, he says the FAA should "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices."

The FAA has historically banned the use of devices at takeoff and landing over fears that they could interfere with the plane's electronic systems. There's no real evidence that they do: indeed the FAA is fine with pilots using iPads in the cockpit. But the last time any official testing was carried out was over six years ago, well before the age of the Kindle.

Earlier this year, the FAA formed a group to re-evaluate current policies, but this won't report until next year. It has, incidentally, said it won't consider allowing voice calls during flights, so don't expect that any time soon.  And while the group takes its time over the policy review, Genachowski is tired of waiting.

"This review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives," he says in the letter, obtained by The Hill.

"They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost US competitiveness."  Not sure how reading the latest JK Rowling boosts competitiveness, but there you go.