Electronic devices: Pilots concerned over relaxed FAA restrictions

(CBS News) After years of debate, the FAA has finally decided to relax the rules for using electronic devices on planes. Passengers will be able to use smartphones, tablets, and e-readers from takeoff to landing. However, the gadgets must be in airplane mode or connected to the plane's wireless Internet.

CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg told Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning" that this ruling was one of "the worst kept secrets in aviation history." He said for the past couple of months it has been very clear that it would not be "whether the FAA relaxed the rules, but when."

Greenberg explained that decision allows passengers to have a "gate-to-gate experience," which means they can use their devices during all phases of flight.

"They can use them on the ground, as long as they're in airplane mode and then above 10,000 feet the old rules kick in," he said. "If they have Wi-Fi on the plane, they can use it. The real problem here, of course, is when it is going to happen."

He explained that in order for this regulation to pertain to an airline, they need to apply to the FAA to explain that they are technically capable of handling this regulation. Only Delta and Jet Blue have filed plans to allow devices below 10,000 feet.

However, not everyone is happy about this ruling. Greenberg explained that pilots and flight attendants are worried that they will have to become "sky cops" to police the use of these devices.

"People are using their Blackberrys right now on the plane, so how are they going to know whether they are on or off or in airplane mode," he said. "Do the pilots or flight attendants have to go row by row, passenger by passenger, and do a hand inspection? That's not going to happen."

The Airline Pilot's Association released a statement that said they did not believe they could expect their passengers to turn off their devices and they "remain concerned that relying on passengers to selectively turn off their devices in areas of extremely poor weather is not a practical solution."

Greenberg predicted that most likely this ruling go into effect at the beginning of the year.

For Peter Greenberg's full interview, watch the video in the player above.

  • Shoshana Davis

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