FAA Says Some Electronics Can Now Be Used Throughout Your Flight

Flickr/Jetstar

If you’re tired of shutting off your gadgets during take off and landing (or you’re one of those passengers who surreptitiously leaves them on) then get ready for some good news. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it is loosening restrictions on the use of electronics in-flight, meaning some devices can now be used the entire time you’re on the plane.

Under the changes, travelers will be able to use e-readers, play games, and watch videos on their portable devices throughout their journey. Bluetooth devices like wireless keyboards can also be used on flights. Cell phones will still face some restrictions, with passengers required to keep them in airplane mode. And as is currently the case, no phone calls will be allowed at any time onboard. The FAA says passengers may be asked to stow some heavier devices during takeoff and landing for safety reasons, but in general, the new rules reflect much more freedom for fliers.The FAA says it came to the decision after receiving input from pilots, electronics manufacturers, and passengers, and that the new rules balance safety with travelers’ increasing appetite to use electronics during flights.

The new rules won’t necessarily apply immediately, and exactly how they’ll be implemented will probably differ from one airline to the next. But the FAA believes most carriers will have the changes in place by the end of the year.

Two Pilots Fired After Brazilian Pop Star Takes Captain’s Seat Mid-Flight

Latino / Instagram (Courtesy The Aviation Herald)

A Brazilian pop star who calls himself Latino has put TAM Airlines in the hot seat after he was allegedly invited to sit in the captain’s chair during a cross-country flight from Recife to Rio de Janeiro. Pictures of the singer in the cockpit of an Airbus A320-200 were circulated on Instagram and posted to the musician’s website the day after the incident, but were later removed.

According to an incident report on The Aviation Herald, autopilot was on and the first officer was in his seat when Latino climbed into the captain’s chair. After a few pictures were snapped, the captain took back his seat and the aircraft continued for a safe landing in Rio.

The news outlet reports the airline initially claimed the photos were taken while the plane was on the ground, but later admitted the aircraft was in-flight, evidenced by engine instruments and navigation displays in the background of the photos. Both pilots have been fired as a result of the occurrence, and Brazil’s Agência Nacional de Aviação Civi – the country’s equivalent to the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States – has opened an investigation.

Forgetting To Turn Your Phone Off While Flying Is Pretty Common

Have you ever reached for your phone at the end of a flight to switch it back on and check your messages only to realize you never turned it off in the first place? If so, you’re in good company. Accidentally leaving your digital devices turned on while flying is quite common, according to a new study.

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the Consumer Electronics Association released a survey showing that close to 30 percent of travelers have forgotten to turn off their phone, ipad, laptop or other device before taking off.When they do actually remember to power down, many passengers don’t actually turn their electronics all the way off. Around 21 percent of fliers put their phones and tablets into “airplane mode” and five percent sometimes shut down their devices, while 59 percent of travelers did as the airlines asked and turned their electronics completely off.

APEX says that 99 percent of adult fliers travel with some sort of portable electronic device and many want to be able to use it during the whole flying process, including takeoff and landing. The group hopes the results of the survey will help persuade the Federal Aviation Administration to loosen the rules regarding use of electronics while flying.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Global X]

United To Restart Dreamliner Flights – But Is It Ready?

United Airlines will send Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” flights back to the skies on May 20. USA Today is reporting this date has been pushed up nearly two weeks earlier than the airline’s original plans, which would have restarted flights on May 31.

In case you haven’t heard, all 50 of these state-of-the-art jets were grounded by safety regulators earlier this year because of overheating concerns on the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries. The grounding hit airlines hard, causing snags in proposed routes and forcing some airlines to lease planes. The St. Louis Business Journal reports Qatar Airways alone lost $200 million in revenue because of the incident.

Although investigators have not found the root cause of the problem, the Federal Aviation Administration officially approved Boeing’s proposed short-term fix for the problem late last month, setting the wheels in motion for the return of passenger flights. Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways have both already resumed Boeing 787 flights, and so far everything seems to have gone along without a hitch, but we’re wondering if the billions of dollars that have already been invested in the planes have caused things to be pushed along a little too quickly.

United will kick off Boing 787 service in the U.S. during an 11 a.m. CT departure from Houston to Chicago O’Hare. Would you book a flight knowing it’s going to be on a Dreamliner, or will you wait a little to see how things pan out?

[Photo credit: Dave Sizer / Wikimedia Commons]

Tarmac Rule Suspension Idea Heralds Really Long Flight Delays

tarmac ruleSequester cuts have had already had an impact on travel, grounding the Navy’s Blue Angels at air shows, turning Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental into a third world-like airport and delaying the opening of national parks. This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began furloughs for some of its 47,000 agency employees, including 15,000 air traffic controllers. Faced with flight delays that could add up to hours, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering a temporary suspension of the three-hour tarmac delay rule, making air travelers the clear losers in the deal.

Just when air travelers were beginning to enjoy better on-time performance by airlines, partially fueled by the 2010 Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, evidence is mounting that U.S. airlines will experience longer and longer delays. In response, the DOT is considering an application filed by Airlines for America (A4A) and the Regional Airline Association (RAA) to suspend the three-hour tarmac delay.

That rule also requires airlines to keep toilets open, provide water and essentials for passengers held for hours on the tarmac and allow them to deplane after three hours for domestic flights and four hours on international flights.

The exemption, if granted, would greatly reduce the possibility of airlines being fined up to $27,500 per passenger.Cutbacks are estimated to delay as many as 6,700 flights each day at the nation’s 14 biggest airports said a report in the International Business Times. Airports affected include Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and all airports serving New York City.

History tells us that being without air traffic controllers is a bad idea, but not one that means long-term travel disruption. When President Reagan fired air traffic controllers in 1981, air travel slowed. But after supervisors and military controllers joined non-striking controllers, 80 percent of flights were operating normally.




[Photo credit - Flickr user shutterbug4000]