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Airplane passengers who forgot to bring a magazine will soon have other entertainment options besides browsing SkyMall and the in-flight safety card. The FAA announced Thursday that the agency will be relaxing half-a-century old guidelines on passenger electronic device use during takeoff and landing, allowing the use of tablets, e-readers, dvd players and video game consoles during these critical phases of flight.
"The world has changed a lot in the past 50 years," said FAA administrator Michael Huerta. "Let's take a fresh look."
The FAA did not set a specific timetable for when passengers could expect to see the device restrictions eased, leaving that to the airlines. "It will take some time for each airline to certify their fleet is safe," said Huerta, "but we expect implementation to be soon."
Delta Air Lines announced shortly after the FAA press conference that its entire flight has completed carrier-defined PED tolerance testing and has submitted its plan to the FAA for approval.
The FAA's announcement follows a report made to the agency by a 28-member advisory committee in September. The group concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from PEDs.
Devices will still have to be in "airplane mode" or with their cellular connection disabled. WiFi will be allowed as long as the flight has an installed system and allows its use.