The FAA has announced today that it will allow airlines to expand their Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) policy. It's important to note that this rule doesn't change airline policies, and airlines can elect to prohibit the use of electronic devices at any time if they wish:
The biggest change:
- Portable Electronic Devices include Smartphones, Tablets and eReaders. These can be used ANYTIME during the flight including during taxi, takeoff, and landing.
Just about everything else is the same though:
- Put your device into airplane mode for the duration of the flight.
- You may use onboard WiFi.
- You may use short-range wireless protocols, like Bluetooth and NFC.
- "Heavy" devices, like laptops still have to be stowed away during takeoff and landing.
- Don't use any of your devices to make voice or video calls. I feel like this rule is just here to keep people from yakking away on their devices for the entirety of the flight.
- None of your devices should transmit cellular data. In addition to the fact that cellular radios are generally more likely to cause interference, this also happens to be an FCC mandate. Why? Because when you're flying high above cell towers and traveling at hundreds of miles per hour, your phone is switching towers every second. Apart from absolutely destroying your phone's battery life, this puts an enormous, unnecessary load on cell towers, reducing network performance for everyone else.
A fun bit of trivia regarding GPS: Most GPS systems will stop working at a speed of 1200 miles per hour or an altitude of 60,000 feet. This is to ensure that GPS tracking cannot be used to guide Intercontinental Ballistics missiles. (Yes, I'm being completely serious)