FAA Says Electronics and Wi-Fi OK for Takeoff, Landing

The Federal Aviation Administration's advisory committee looking into the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing has concluded current restrictions prohibiting their use aren't necessary. The committee said handheld devices and Wi-Fi connections were safe for all parts of flights instead of just above the current 10,000 foot limit.

FAA panel says handheld electronics and Wi-Fi are safe for takeoff and landingFAA panel says handheld electronics and Wi-Fi are safe for takeoff and landing

The committee concluded that most every airplane has the necessary shielding in place to protect critical electronic components from any interference handheld devices could potentially pose. A senior Amazon official serving on the committee said that most airplanes "are going to be just fine," according to the Wall Street Journal.

The policy change doesn't, however, mean that travelers can start making cell phone calls in flight. Current Federal Communication Commission regulations prohibit the use of cell phones in flight over concerns of interference with ground-based cell service systems.

Fliers will still be required to shut off the cell signal part on their smartphones and tablets even after other restrictions have been lifted, and that could prove difficult for flight attendants to control. Even still, the committee's findings show that there doesn't appear to be any risk from active cell signals in flight.

Instead of starting over with tests to show that handheld electronics are safe for all phases of flights, the committee said tests that have already been conducted should be reassessed and that planes with Wi-Fi already onboard shouldn't need to go through rigorous testing, if any at all. Those planes, they said, have already undergone extensive electronics interference testing and have been shown to be safe.

Word surfaced in June that the panel was suggesting inflight electronics restrictions should be lifted, although at the time there was talk of creating tiers where some devices could be used below the 10,000 foot ceiling and others would still be bound by the current restrictions. Easing restrictions on all electronic devices makes much more sense and will be easier for passengers to understand, too.

While the FAA committee has already started talking about their findings, the official announcement has yet to come. Once the official announcement comes it'll still take about a year before we see the changes take place, so don't plan on surfing the Web on take off during this holiday season's travel time.