The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in the process of reviewing its regulations on in-flight use of electronics, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski on Thursday urged the Administration to revise its policies.
The FAA should "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers and other portable devices" during flights, Genachowski wrote in a letter to acting FAA administrator Michael Huerta.
"This review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives," Genachowski reportedly wrote in the letter.
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Genachowski launched into a diatribe on how mobile devices empower interpersonal connectivity and boost the economy, but his point was clear: people should be able to use mobile devices during larger windows of time on flights.
The rules are strict
FAA regulations currently stipulate that passengers' electronic devices must be turned off during take-off and landing, and that any gadgets with voice or data capabilities must be left in some sort of "airplane mode" during flights.
An FAA study conducted between 2004 and 2006 examined whether those regulations are still necessary, and reportedly found that "there was no evidence saying these devices can interfere with a plane," according to the New York Daily News.
Regardless, rules regarding electronic devices on flights have remained in place, despite the FAA approving in-flight Wi-Fi on numerous airlines.
What exactly does the FCC want?
No doubt most frequent fliers would appreciate being able to keep their phones and laptops turned on while in the air, but it's unclear exactly what Genachowski was asking for in his Thursday letter.
Some sources reported that Genachowski seeks for rules governing electronic devices during take-off and landing to be eliminated, while others imply that Genachowski is asking for mid-flight voice communications to be allowed - despite the difficulties of getting wireless reception at 30,000 feet.
TechRadar asked the FCC for clarification, but the agency has yet to respond.
Via The Hill