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In case you hadn’t heard, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has changed the regulation that prohibits airline passengers from using personal electronic devices during flights below 10, 000 feet. The use of electronics on planes has been regulated since the 1950s when portable FM radios brought on board by passengers were interfering with the aircrafts’ radar navigation systems. Cellphones were then banned in-flight in the early 90s because of fear that they would do the same.

This theory, however, has never been proven.

The old rule (still currently in effect) prevents passengers from turning on their electronic devices unless the aircraft is above 10, 000 feet, at which point interference was supposed to be less likely. However, people’s attachment to their gadgets has made it very difficult to enforce this rule so the FAA was prompted to create a committee that would revisit and potentially revise it last year. Their conclusion was reached at the end of September when they recommended the FAA’s administrator, Michael Huerta, to go forward with relaxing the policy.

The FAA announced the approval of the changes on October 31. The new rule, which will come into effect next year, stipulates that passengers can use their smartphones, tablets, laptops, iPods, e-readers, etc. at any point of the flight. The exception is that cellphones must remain on airplane-mode during the entire flight as calls and texting are still prohibited. Aircrafts will continue to turn on their Wi-Fi at 10, 000 feet for passengers who want to browse the Web.

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Category: Spotlight