Enjoy your iGizmo while the plane takes off

Enjoy your iGizmo while the plane takes off

NEW YORK - In as little as a few months, airline passengers could play video games, read e-books, watch movies and listen to music while their flights take off or land, ending a long-standing ban on devices being used during those risky phases.

But looser rules under consideration for portable electronic devices (PEDs) are likely to force airlines to make some major changes.

Carriers, for starters, will need to determine if their planes are "PED resistant" and able to tolerate the proposed broader use of electronics. Some smaller and older planes with less robust avionics may not be, calling for different procedures on device use.

Cabin crews will need new announcements, placards and ways to monitor broader use of such devices as Apple Inc iPads or Amazon.com Inc Kindles. Bulky devices such as laptops and DVD players will need to be stowed during takeoff and landing, and perhaps even when planes are taxiing for long periods to avoid blocking people in an evacuation.

Most importantly, on some landings in poor weather, passengers may still be required to shut down devices so they won't interfere with electronic guidance systems that planes rely on to locate the runway.

The new guidelines, under review by the Federal Aviation Administration, put the onus on airlines to ensure planes are operated safely, according to members of a government-industry committee that recommended policy changes to the agency.

"It's not about certifying devices to be used on airplanes. It's about certifying airplanes to enable use of devices," said Douglas Johnson, a committee member and vice president of technology policy at the Consumer Electronics Association.

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