The sheer number of people that expect to walk around their respective cities and be connected to the Web whenever they like these days is growing. Some people even expect to be connected to the Web when they’re traveling. It appears that the FAA is starting to agree with those people. A panel with the Federal Aviation Administration recently ruled that it doesn’t see a danger in allowing people to be connected to Wi-Fi when a plane is taking off or landing.
This particular panel appears to be trying to drag the FAA into modern times, one motion at a time. This same panel recently recommended to the agency that people be allowed to use their cell phones, tablets and laptops during flight, as long as they are not connected to the Web. Now the panel is saying that it is perfectly safe to be connected as well. This is good news for a whole host of different people, including the companies that provide Wi-Fi access on flights like Boingo Wireless.
One change that the panel is not recommending is that of cellular connections. That is still a very big no-no when talking about using devices on a plane. This means that tablets and smartphones that are connected to their own networks will still not be allowed. The panel didn’t specifically say if and when that policy might change as well.
The report is expected to be officially released to the FAA shortly, but that doesn’t actually mean that the changes are going to be coming all that soon. The FAA as a whole has had these kinds of policies in place for a long time. The agency is unlikely to change their ways quickly. One roadblock to any of these changes is simply ease of enforcement. If people are allowed to use these devices on a plane, flight attendants are going to have to detect whether or not someone is connected to a Wi-Fi network or whether they are connected to a cellular network. That would be a difficult task.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson