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FAA to expand use of personal electronic gadgets on planes

Oct. 31, 2013 at 11:41 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration Thursday loosened restrictions on use of tables, e-readers and other personal electronic devices on commercial planes.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the government agency had determined airlines could safely lift restrictions on use of personal electronics throughout flights, but implementation will vary among airlines because of the various types of aircraft in their fleets and their operations.

Passengers soon will be able to use e-readers, play games and watch videos with few exceptions throughout flights.

Electronics, printed books and magazines will have to be held or stowed in a seat back pocket during takeoffs and landings, and use of cellphones or voice communication still will be prohibited during flight.

But once over 10,000 feet in the air, WiFi use will be permitted if the air carrier provides Internet service and electric accessories that use Bluetooth, like wireless mice and keyboards, will be permitted.

"We believe today's decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer's increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. "These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement much anticipated guidelines in the near future."

Use of personal electronics while a plane is flying under 10,000 feet began decades ago due to concerns about interference with cockpit communications and navigation equipment.

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