FAA delays in-flight tech decision to September

The Federal Aviation Administration had been expected to decide on in-flight use of technology this summer

21 Jun 2013

The decision over whether air travellers will be able to use technology during flights has been delayed until September.

A Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel weighing whether to ease restrictions on in-flight use of personal technology devices such as ebook readers has delayed its recommendations by two months until late September, the FAA said.

The delay comes amid reports that the FAA advisers are expected to recommend the agency relax its guidelines and allow passengers to use more personal electronics on flights.

"At the group's request, the FAA has granted a two-month extension to complete the additional work necessary for the safety assessment. We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps," the agency said.

Currently, FAA guidelines allow airlines some flexibility in whether they allow passengers to use certain personal electronic devices because of concerns they may pose a safety hazard by interfering with radio frequencies and disrupting aircraft systems.

Most airlines tell travelers not to use iPods, music players, laptops and other gadgets during takeoffs and landings, and mobile phones are also generally not allowed anytime during flights.

The Wall Street Journal, citing industry officials and a draft copy of the panel's report, said that the group will recommend relaxing restrictions on electronic gadgets but will not address the rules barring mobile phone use.

NBC News also reported that the recommendations are likely to call for allowing passengers to use devices such as electronic readers, and that FAA officials are likely to adopt the change.

The FAA last year said it was convening the advisory panel to help airlines decide whether to allow wider use of such gadgets. The group is weighing both any potential safety issues such as interference and the feasibility of easing the ban.

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