Rumors have been flying (har!) for nearly a year
that the Federal Aviation Administration would at long last enable carriers
to relax the archaic rules that barred passengers from using electronic devices during take-off and landing. The spiel has always been that those devices and their mysterious frequencies could potentially screw with the navigation system on the aircraft, and in a worst-case scenario, could cause a crash.
Of course, that really never proved to be true. Still, change in the airline industry happens at a comically slow pace, so it's no real surprise to see that it has taken until now for the FAA to give the green light to the proposal. The entity will require airline carriers to "demonstrate that aircraft won't be at risk because of potential interference from portable electronic device," but it's expected that most airlines will comply quickly. In fact, many airlines may be able to let passengers use their Kindles and iPhones during take-off and landing as they head home for the holidays this year.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta had this to say: "We found that we could protect aviation safety and at the same time address the passenger desire for use of their portable devices. The committee determined that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices."
Sadly, connections to the Internet (via Gogo and the like) will still terminate below 10,000 feet, but at least offline use will be permitted going forward. It may seem like a minor victory, but for consumers who fly often, they'll understand just how big of a relief this really is.