June 21, 2013, 10:12 AM — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is moving toward relaxing the rules about using electronic devices on airplanes, according to a published report, but the decision isn't final yet.
An advisory panel to the FAA has recommended that the agency relax the ban on some types of electronic devices at low altitudes, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, quoting from a draft report issued by the panel. The recommendations don't cover mobile phone use because the agency didn't ask the panel to address that issue, the report said.
But the FAA said the panel's recommendations aren't final. The panel, made up of government and industry representatives, has asked for a two-month extension to examine the safety issues associated with allowing electronic devices to operate during flights, and the agency has granted that extension, the FAA said in a statement. The extension runs until late September.
"We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps," the FAA said.
The agency added that it asked the panel to examine the use of electronic devices because it "recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft."
Air carriers now follow the FAA's advice and ban the use of electronic devices until airplanes reach 10,000 feet. But many passengers are forgetting to turn off their devices, with nearly one third saying they've accidentally forgotten to turn off devices during flights, the Wall Street Journal quoted the draft recommendations as saying.
The FAA's rule against using electronic devices "has become untenable," the draft report said.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is email@example.com.