Airplane Mode May Soon Count

By Norman Chan

F.A.A. expected to announce new guidelines for use of electronics on airplanes during takeoff and landing.

It's been a long time coming, but the New York Times is reporting that the F.A.A.'s special advisory board may soon release its new recommendations for the airline policy of turning off electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Anonymous advisory board members have indicated that the new guidelines would allow for reading e-books, listening to audio, and watching video at any time during the flight, without passengers being required to power off completely. The policy recommendations have to be approved but will likely go into effect next year. Regarding safety certification--which in the past required the impossibly costly task of testing all possible devices in different airplane types--the F.A.A. will instead ask that individual airlines certify that their planes can tolerate a threshold of signal interference, a process already implemented for installing onboard Wi-Fi. Take that, SkyMall.