An advisory committee for the Federal Aviation Association has deemed it safe for WiFi devices to be used during takeoff and landing. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 28-member panel has determined that WiFi use is fine during the entire length of a flight, and the committee is endorsing the move. Previously, it recommended that the FAA lift the ban, but now it’s taking it a step further.
Currently, WiFi devices aren’t allowed to be used on an aircraft when its flying below 10,000 feet, but the FAA has been asked multiple times to consider lifting the ban in order for mobile devices to be used under 10,000 feet — mostly during takeoff and landing.
Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, says that “the vast majority” of airplanes “are going to be just fine” as far as WiFi devices being used during takeoff and landing. Misener is a member of the FAA panel.
However, the FAA panel is still recommending that cellular voice and data be disabled during the entire length of the flight, mostly due to strict FCC rules that prohibit cell service being used during a flight, but the panel is still working on getting the FCC to lax on those rules just a bit. Essentially, though, we’re more likely to get WiFi devices up and running on flights before cellular use (if cellular use even gets unbanned, which is unlikely).
Still, that would be a huge win for passengers, who are restricted from using their gadgets at all during the beginning and end of a flight. Opening it up to WiFi use would be a huge convenience for millions of passengers.
The argument over whether or not mobile devices should be allowed on airplanes began decades ago, when mobile devices were first being introduced. Many experts deemed them as an interference to airplane radio communications, but little evidence has since been provided that proves this argument. Thus, the FAA is looking into lifting that ban.
The committee’s report is expected to be released by the FAA in the near future, but if changes do get approved, they probably won’t go into effect until next year, so we’ll certainly be waiting at least a few months before we’ll be able to use WiFi-enabled devices during takeoff and landing.