FAA may loosen in-flight e-reader and tablet restrictions

One of the more annoying things to owners of e-readers who travel is the restriction against using electronic devices during taxi, take-off, and landing. The FAA’s regulations restrict using these devices out of concern that they could interfere with the avionics of the airplanes. And while the FAA has said that airlines are free to request exemptions for particular devices, the testing required to request that exemption is costly enough that most airlines would prefer to let their passengers go on being annoyed.

However, Nick Bilton of the NY Times’s “Bits” blog reports that when he called the FAA last week to complain about the device restrictions, the FAA had different news for him than he expected: perhaps responding to public pressure, the department has decided to take a “fresh look” at restrictions against device use in light of the recent proliferation of tablets and e-readers. (Smartphones will still be prohibited.)

There will still be a great deal of testing involved, and it may take a lot of time (and bureaucracy) to complete. So don’t count on being able to read your Kindle all the way from boarding to exit any time soon. Still, if the device restrictions are loosened, it could considerably lessen the travel frustration for e-book readers going forward.

(Found via Ars Technica.)

1 Comment on FAA may loosen in-flight e-reader and tablet restrictions

  1. I’m not annoyed by the fact that no one can use cell phones in flight. I’m delighted by the rule. I hate to spend Seattle-to-Atlanta next to a salesman who won’t get off his phone.

    If we need an excuse, it’s that at 30,000 feet a cell phone is hitting dozens of towers using the same channel and probably creating some havoc with the system.

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