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FAA Looks To Relax Restrictions On Electronics Usage On Planes

WASHINGTON (WJZ)—Turning off all your electronic devices during flight takeoff and landing may be a thing of the past.  An FAA advisory council is looking to relax some restrictions.

Monique Griego has more on what could be allowed.

The rules have been a point of contention for passengers.

Like many passengers, Chris Decolli stays fully connected when traveling by air.

"My iPad, my laptop and, of course, my iPhone," Decolli said."I've seen guys with two laptops, two iPhones, personal phones, iPods, the whole nine yards."

Because so many people are so technically dependent, the FAA created an advisory council to look into relaxing some of its in-flight electronics restrictions. The panel's recommendations are expected this week.

"I think you're going to see a liberalization of these personal electronic devices," said Mark Rosenker, former NTSB chairman/safety expert.

Generally, passengers have to turn off all devices during takeoff and landing.  But according to a report by the New York Times, new guidelines may allow people to read e-books, listen to podcasts and watch videos--gate to gate.

Phone calls, text messaging, email and the use of WiFi will still be off limits.

"I would like them to relax it enough to provide us some options as long as safety is not impacted," said Dan Killian, flyer.

Over the years, pilots and mechanics have reported hundreds of incidents where they believed a device may have interfered with a plane's instruments, but so far there is no hard evidence to prove that.

"There's actually been a good deal of study done. The unfortunate part about it is that it's neither confirmed nor denied the fact the electromagnetic interference can affect the aircraft's performance," Rosenker said.

Still many travelers say they'd gladly ditch their devices for safety.

"I think people would be happier with it, but if it affects safety than I would rather not do it," said Barb Livick, flyer.

The FAA does not have the authority to allow cell phone use on airplanes because cell phones are actually regulated by the FCC. It has said they interfere with cell phone towers on the ground.

The council is expected to make its recommendations to the FAA by the end of the month. If approved, changes take effect next year.

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