US Federal Aviation Administration to re-examine in-flight electronics use

Chances are good that you'll still need to put your electronic devices away during takeoff and landing, but the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is forming a combined government-industry group to determine when your computer, smartphone and tablet can be safely used.

The major reason you're asked to power down those devices during portions of the flight is to prevent interference with communications and navigation devices during the most crucial phases. The group the FAA is forming will include participants from pilot, flight attendant, and passenger groups, as well as airlines, mobile companies, and aviation manufacturers.

The group will be formed this fall, meet for a six-month period, and then report back to the FAA on the testing methods used by airlines to determine safety and possible standards for use of devices in flight. They will not be looking at allowing voice calls on cellphones during flights.

You, the flying public, have a chance to put in your word with the FAA starting today. A Request for Comments (RFC) should be published in the Federal Register today, kicking off a 60-day period during which the public is requested to make comments on various issues.

The cellular industry's industry group, CTIA, has one opinion -- "The use of portable electronic devices while on a flight -- the whole flight -- should absolutely be allowed," said CTIA executive Jot Carpenter. Whether the flying public will tolerate loud cell phone calls during flights is another matter...