If you're planning to pick up a new iPad Air prior to catching a plane in the US tomorrow, you may be able to use the device during the entire flight - including takeoff and landing.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that airlines may allow the use of personal electronics during all stages of flight, effective immediately.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta confirmed the news with a press release following months of debate and investigation amidst safety concerns over the use of mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers while a flight is taking off or landing.
"I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use [personal electronics] on airplanes," said Huerta.
Fly the friendlier skies
While personal electronics are now cleared for use during an entire flight, a few key exceptions have been put into place to create a more comfortable ride for passengers.
For starters, all electronic items must join other items in the a seat's back pocket during actual takeoff and landing, and cellular-equipped devices still need to have their radios turned off.
The FAA guidance also expressly forbids "airborne calls using cell phones" as well as other types of voice communications, by order of the Federal Communications Commission FCC.
Sky high Down Under
This doesn't meant that you'll be able to use your devices on Aussie flights yet, with Australia's FAA equivalent, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), saying only that they are examining this announcement.
"Currently in Australia all airlines restrict the use of electronic devices during critical phases of flight – such as take-off and landing – due to the risk of interference to aircraft systems," CASA said in a statement.
"These restrictions remain in place and passengers must follow directions from aircraft crew at all times."
It also reiterated the fact that devices and phone's still won't be able to connect to telephone networks in the US, with the requirement that devices "will have to be used in 'airplane mode'."
With the FAA's blessing, US airline Delta confirmed it will be the first to allow the use of portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet starting Friday, November 1 on more than 570 domestic aircraft, with the remainder of their regional fleet ready by year's end.
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