Let’s face it, there are inevitable things in life: death, taxes, and getting scolded by a flight attendant for not shutting off and stowing away an electronic device during flight takeoff and landing. If you’re a frequent flier, you’ve likely overheard a fellow passenger being admonished for breaking the rules (and if you’re a tech rebel, you may have even been scolded yourself!) Fortunately for tech addicts, the Federal Aviation Administration is now reconsidering its rules.

Kindle airplane reading

Kindle airplane reading (Photo credit: Wesley Fryer)

According to recent reports, an FAA advisory group is asking that the ban on in-flight personal devices be relaxed. In a recent statement made to the Washington Post, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said. . .

The FAA recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft. That is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions. At the group’s request, the FAA has granted a two-month extension to complete the additional work necessary for the safety assessment. We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps.

So why are passengers required to turn off their electronic devices in the first place? In short, some electronic devices are believed to emit certain amounts of RFI (Radio Frequency Interference), but many experts claim that this appears to be an outdated rule. According to a TechCrunch blog post, the rule was implemented in the sixties, when electronics more easily interfered with the electronic equipment in the plane’s cockpit, posing a clear threat to the safety of everyone on board.

If you’re worried about the implications of allowing electronic devices to be used during takeoff and landing, consider this: a recent survey conducted by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), roughly one-third of airline passengers admitted to keeping their electronic devices on.

If you’re excited at the prospect of using your cell phone undisturbed during your next trip, cool your jets. The new rules (which have been proposed to allow usage of devices such as e-readers) will likely still prohibit cell phone usage. The FAA advisory group is waiting until September to deliver their official recommendations.