FAA may relax rules for electronics on flights by the end of 2013

A source of irritation for air travelers who like digital devices continues to be the fact that most airlines force you to turn your gadgets off at certain stages of flight. The FAA has been conducting a study looking at the possibility of expanding usage for electronics on commercial aircraft during flight. According to the New York Times, the study may result in a significant change to the rules aboard commercial aircraft by the end of 2013.

The New York Times cites sources working with an industry group that the FAA set up last year to study the use of electronic devices on aircraft. This agency hopes to announce by the end of the year that rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing will be relaxed. However, the source is clearly saying that the change in rules would not include mobile phones.

The New York Times says that a member of the working group and an official at the FAA both confirmed this plan, but wanted to remain anonymous because they aren't allowed to speak publicly. Both of the sources said that the FAA was under pressure to let people use reading devices or provide solid scientific evidence as to why travelers shouldn't be allowed to use the devices. This will be very difficult to do considering some major airlines now allow pilots and other crew members to use iPads during all phases of flight.

This working group that the FAA set up last year includes some big-name participants including Amazon, the CEA, Boeing, the Association of Flight Attendents, and the FCC among others. The findings from this working group are expected to be announced by July 31, 2013. Part of the push for a change in the rules has to do with the growing number of wearable computing devices that will be coming to market. Specifically things like smartwatches along the lines of the rumored Apple iWatch and things like Google Glass wearable glasses.

[via NYT]