In recent months, the issue of using mobile devices during airplane flights and how such usage may (or may not) impact safety has become a topic of debate. Now it's been revealed that the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to relax its rules regarding mobile device use during flights.
Earlier this week FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski penned a letter to FAA administrator Michael Huerta in which he asked the agency to "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices." Following increased scrutiny and discussion of the issue, in August the FAA decided to launch a study to research the potential safety implications of allowing greater use of electronic devices during airplane flights.
While the FAA study includes a range of devices, it does not include reviewing the agency's policies regarding voice communications on cell phones. According to Huerta, "we're looking for information to help air carriers and operators decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today's aircraft. We also want solid safety data to make sure tomorrow's aircraft designs are protected from interference."
This latest letter to FCC will likely add to the public pressure to modify the FAA's policies regarding mobile devices. In another section of the letter, Genachowski refers directly to the FAA study, writing, "this review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives. They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness."
Results from the FAA's six-month study are expected to be made public some time in 2013.