Pikachu, I choose you … to get me through this flight from Los Angeles to New York.
Earlier today, the Federal Aviation Administration loosened its rules on gadgets during commercial airline flights. It is now OK to use gaming devices like a Nintendo 3DS, a PlayStation Vita, or an Apple iPad during the flight and while the plane is taking off and landing. This means passengers can go gate-to-gate without ever turning off their favorite piece of consumer electronics.
The new rules still prohibit cellular communications. This means you’ll have to keep your phone and 3G-equipped Vitas in airplane mode. Wi-fi and Bluetooth (the other common forms of wireless communication in today’s gadgets) are perfectly acceptable.
“We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future.”
While the FAA has officially altered its rules today, it will take some time for the airlines to roll out these new guidelines. Don’t get yourself kicked off a plane this afternoon by insisting on your right to “catch ’em all” while your passenger jet ascends to 10,000 feet.
“I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use [personal electronic devices] on airplanes,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said.
Previously, all electronic devices were prohibited during takeoff and landing. Passengers had to completely shut down their cellphones, 3DSes, and Kindles and stow them away. The concern was always that the radio signals coming from these devices could potentially interfere with an airplane’s sensitive instruments.
In coming up with the new guidelines, the Aviation Rulemaking Committee found that most airplanes are properly shielded against the radio signals from most gadgets.