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FAA to loosen grip on gadget use in flight

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The FAA's ban on using gadgets during every aspect of flight may soon end.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently requires passengers to turn off their mobile devices during taxiing, takeoffs, landings, and until a plane reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet. However, according to industry officials and draft recommendations prepared by an advisory panel, the agency may soon offer fliers more freedom to use their gadgets.

The new rules could mean that passengers will no longer be required to turn off devices, although phone calls will remain off-limits.

The report says that as the consumer electronics industry has exploded, current freedom given to airlines to make their own rules "has become untenable." Details are still being ironed out, but in light of how many fliers flout the rules -- often accidentally by forgetting to turn mobiles off -- the FAA may be forced to regulate the system rather than carry on with patchwork, airline-variable regulations.

The FAA will not make a formal decision until the advisory panel submits its formal report in September. An FAA spokeswoman commented:

"The FAA recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft; that is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions."

The changes may also give businesses a boost, as consumers continue to demand both corporate applications when flying on business and the availability of Wi-Fi connections.

Read More: Wall Street Journal

Image credit: Flickr

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— By on June 20, 2013, 10:33 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure