FAA Expands Use of Electronic Devices During Takeoff, Landing

Officials say use of phones, and other electronics, can be used during previously prohibited times.
3:00 | 10/31/13

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Transcript for FAA Expands Use of Electronic Devices During Takeoff, Landing
This is a special group. Good morning on Taina Hernandez in New York with an ABC news digital special report on the FAA's new guidelines. An electronic devices on flights during landings and takeoffs. He's about to change and we are waiting FAA administrator Michael -- -- a break it all down for us. But before he takes to put inlet pretty ABC's Jim Ottawa. To tell us a little bit more about what we can expect didn't just take us through what the rules are now when how we expect they may change. Well as most people a no fly a lot of the rules are that. You can't use any of your devices in the air except through their through the airline's -- the Wi-Fi system. And it also course on takeoff and landing everything has to be often stored away. Now a lot of people are annoyed by that especially by the fact that. The pilots. Apparently are using ipads in the in the actual. Cockpit and that's kind of annoyed some passengers about it they can use them then is there really a danger involved. The FAA has now reassessed and they've had a panel that's look at this. And the panelists said fine every air every airplane. -- has to be tested. But after those tests go on by each airline and its proven that the airline airplane itself can handle the radio reception inside. That it appears as though the FAA is going to allow people. To use. There electronic devices including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. In the air. At all times and even. -- right after it looks like the right after take off in right before landing. All right well exciting news for a lot of people who fly and it looks like we have Michael -- to taken -- stand and we got. Here when I first. FAA administrator. I wanted to take a thoughtful look at the rules that have been governing the use a portable electronic devices in flight. These rules have been in place for just about fifty years. So -- assembled a team of industry and aviation experts to explore the issue and today we want to share the conclusion. After reviewing the report and the committee's recommendations. And consulting with our specialists at the FAA. I am pleased to announce. That airlines can safely expand. Passenger use a portable electronic devices during all phases of flight. Today the FAA is providing the airlines with the implementation guidance to do just that. The committee determined that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices. It's safe to -- downloaded materials. Like. But the committee found that in some instances of low visibility. About 1%. Of all flights. Some landing systems may not be proven to tolerate the interference. In those cases passengers may be asked to turn off devices. We agree with that recommendation and our guidance to the airlines reflects that. That's important for everyone's safety that passengers -- -- request to store such devices if need be. The committee recommended that heavier devices. Be safely stowed under seats or an overhead bins during takeoff and landing. And this is something that we will ask the airlines to implement. That this was not our typical aviation rule making committee. While the team was made up of representatives from the airlines. Aviation manufacturers. Pilots and flight attendants. We also included some -- organizations that represent passengers and the mobile technology industry. -- this diverse group ensured. That we found. That we could protect aviation safety. And at the same time address the passenger desire. For use of their portable devices and I really want to command the very detailed and the very thorough work. The aviation. The rule making committee which represented all of these stakeholders. If you want to see the report to can be found at our web -- FAA -- out. -- these changes won't take effect immediately. But we will be working with the airlines to get it done as quickly as we can and to maximize consistency. Across the industry. Cabin safety is extremely important. And each airline will evaluate its fleet and may need to change the rules for stowing carry on items as well as passenger safety announcements. Each airline will also need to revise manuals. Checklists for crew member training material and passenger briefings before expanding the use of portable electronic devices. Each airline will determine how and win it will allow passengers the broader use of tablets. We're committed to working with carriers to review their plans as expeditiously. And promote consistency. For passengers. I want to be clear he still cannot talk on your -- during flight. The Federal Communications Commission governs cell phone use during flights and the committee did not consider that issue. All devices should be an airplane out. However you will be able to connect through -- to an -- wireless network if the airline provides that service. And you will be able to connect to Bluetooth accessories like a mouse or keyboard. There's one thing that won't change. Passengers must take a break from their devices they're reading material their music whatever they're doing. And listen to the safety briefing before each flight it's information that could save your life. In closing I want to commend the dedication and the excellent work. Of the experts who spent the past year working together to give -- a solid report. It's allowed us to move forward with a science based decision. And expanded use of electronics on airplanes during all phases of flight. Now while it would take some time for each airline to verify that its fleet is PED tolerant I expect expanded use will come very soon. Thank you again for joining me today I'd be happy to take your questions. -- -- What we evaluated. Was a wealth of technical information that exists on the use of these devices. And there interactions with aircraft systems. And we found a very small percentage there may be. And in certain weather conditions. Inclement weather low visibility conditions. There may be some potential the important thing. Is that. -- every passenger needs to follow crew member instructions. If the captain asked you set up a device it's for good reason. It's certain combinations of whether avionics and aircraft but again it's a very small percentage were saying 1% of flights. -- -- At one point he had receivers had been -- and not for electronic reasons but for security reasons. Will Lewis receivers not be allowed to use them here. In terms the question was GPS receivers and whether they had at one point been banned for security reasons. The -- did to at least raise the larger question of security and I think that in terms of the broader security concerns. -- really need to talk to the Transportation Security Administration. What we're saying is they're safe to use during all phases of flight. -- -- Felt it to thrill -- this question first I'm assuming that test protocols are what we'll -- -- CCA. How long -- some years back. And secondly do you have any. -- for us what percentage the lead. Now they're out -- now live with those -- -- Just to come back to the second part of the question first. We believe that this applies to the vast majority of the fleet. But what we're looking for in the plans that the airline submit to us is the specific information. With respect to the composition of their fleet. How it relates to their training program -- -- policies follow those sorts things. Once we see that plan. And sign off finance and passengers will be able to opt operate in conforms with that plan. Will lead to get what we can talk -- -- about that. Concerns. Centered about. -- flight attendants would determine the difference. -- you worry that. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- it's. Couple -- couple points on that the flight attendants responsibility is to advise and to let everyone know what the rules are. And we're really looking to the passengers to follow the guidance that's given by the flight crews. We can certainly if the airline allows its passengers can certainly connect via Wi-Fi technology. We are asking people to put these devices an airplane mode current FCC guidelines do require that cell -- be an airplane military fight. And there's actually a good reason you want to -- -- and fly an airplane -- anyway they're -- drain your battery. Because a cellphone will continue paying for a signal when your flying at high -- you won't get away. Davis is going to apply to all international carriers and national life. This applies to carriers that are under the regulatory authority of the FAA so those are US carriers. But in the full scope of -- an international and domestic operations. -- Now that people will have their electronic devices -- Will -- make it harder on the flight attendants to check that they don't have their cell signal all on. Will take it will be hard for chips tells Clinton's -- when they have their cell signal -- Again flight attendants role is to advise them and in terms of what the rules are we want them to be an airplane mode there -- no safety problem if it's not. But you're gonna write your destination with a -- found and I don't think anyone wants that. -- -- -- This is seventeen. That the FAA he has it we there's a lot of consumer interest these. These regulations have been around for a long time. And in that period of time technology has evolved both an aircraft as well as the devices that passengers use. And we felt as an agency we came together as a leadership team and felt. That it really is important for us take a fresh look at what these rules are and are -- things that we could do. And so I'm very pleased that there aviation rule making committee. Operated as quickly as they did and they sent us their report on September 30. September 31 -- -- -- him. Experience flying hours except. Changes before you got. -- -- And no one I will be the biggest proponent on following flight attendant instructions it's important very important that we ensure a safe cabin environment. But I did feel that like any regulation has been around for a long time the world has changed a lot in the last fifty years let's take a fresh look and that's where we -- We're here that. Senators need to pay attention to that to the safety briefing -- attendance and the crew is there for one reason and that's to ensure your safety. And aircraft are configured differently. And it is extremely important to passengers pay attention to their briefing whether there. Looking -- an electronic device or whether they're reading a book or whether there are talking to their children they need to pay attention during the safety briefings. -- -- The ability of the passengers on flight 93 to talk to. But once we knew what was going on in the world and form that allowed them. Divert that plane from cap he's there -- no wait for passengers to communicate. We the people on the map -- placed on capitol building and homes anymore it's like reading or they're just kind of like in the darkness that. Cellphone calls -- within the regulatory authority of the Federal Communications Commission I'm sure that something they look at all the time it encourages talked to them. Kate thank you. All right so that was FAA administrator Michael -- -- laying out some of the new potential roles. For using personal electronic devices while fine with -- -- -- -- -- witness to talk about. These update Jim so let's go through the changes that we can play words with friends potentially but we cannot talk to friends. On our flights -- there are some restrictions. Ahead. Yeah I guess the most important thing for for the passengers to understand is that they'll be able to talk on their cell phones in the air now. In in reality you can't anyway -- -- -- there are. The signals that we -- I can -- -- -- -- Washington DC -- -- get a for the signal that you know 20000 feet. Use your phone rarely works up in the air so that's not really that big of a problem. They would have to change the system altogether so whether so -- cell phone the towers pointed opt instead of straight line. And that isn't happening so. -- continue to happen to use Wi-Fi to communicate. Through email. To have anybody on the ground that's gonna continue. The the big significant change is that you don't have to turn you're you're good to electronic tablet off when you're reading a book it -- be like -- book. You can continue to read. As you after you board the plane and all the way into you land. Which is in for -- in which -- a lot of people. Want to do. You can use your headsets here you're here headphones -- of that maybe noise counts canceling. All these things that. Really don't interfere. With the flight will now be allowed from takeoff until landing -- -- -- ask you to do is like -- ask you -- -- newspaper put it down. While the flight attendant gives her his or her three minute announcement about safety. So in terms of a timeline we don't have a set timeline. He said this will happen soon but. All planes have to be tested and there's -- a lot of through bureaucratic hurdles airlines need to update their manuals and -- she put a lot of work ahead for the airline. Well this is the government after all in the we have a lot of airlines a lot of different kind of airplanes -- -- and what's gonna have to happen is as. The FAA administrator sad is. Each airline is gonna present their plan to the FAA. And what they're gonna make me have to change some things including the the briefings that they give -- -- on a lot of those are taped. They have to -- remake though is about what you can do it yourself phone what you can't doing electronic devices. They also have to tell the FAA that there airplanes of specific -- will be able in fact two. Withstand any kind of radio waves in the cockpit. And won't mess things up the other important thing is. In about 1% as you heard of the cases. Where there is bad visibility you know some of these airplanes. I've been on the 787 dreamliner. They can actually -- with zero visibility. Using -- radar and radio frequencies so during those bad. Visibility times the captain may come on and say this is really critical or not we can't see anything -- we want to make sure there's no problem whatsoever turn off your. Your devices here's what's important about that I believe is a frequent -- and someone who covered the FAA. Is that right now. The law as he said was so old and so antiquated. That a lot of people didn't pay attention to it because they knew didn't make any sense the best line ever heard was on west wing. Where -- Toby his landing. Into -- during an emergency. One who needs -- cut talked to the White House and then in the flight attendant we'll turn it off he says. Wait a minute this -- five dollar device that I -- that RadioShack and bring down an airplane. -- -- -- That's the kind of frustration that was involved for frequent fliers and so they ignored what was going on there ignored the the flight attendants. Instructions all the time. I do now he mentions -- more reasonable. You know -- so -- more likely that they will follow the directions. Of the flight attendants -- -- glad you mentioned -- policy's been in effect for very long time fifty years where it has said so. Why am reading -- -- personal electronic devices then why did it take so long for them to revisit this and also why now. Well. Let me just answer that is a frequent -- rather than what these guys covering I think the basic reason why there was reluctance to change this is that it's easy. It's easy for the flight attendants to say put everything away. They don't have to distinguish between things that might cause a problem the things that don't come in and puts out very very little as far as electronic frequencies it's not transmitting anything. So but in the fight -- ten would have to see if you had an. It was just easier for the for the airlines to say nothing it was also easier to make sure that people were paying attention. During takeoff and landing the most critical part. Flying the word most accidents happen. Is when you take off and when you land so that the airlines were arguing that we want people's complete attention. Frequent fliers were arguing and and people are reading books people are reading newspapers are doing crossword puzzles. What's the difference between whether I read my. The airlines try to keep it as long as possible is it made the job easier for flight attend. It's all right ABC's senior national correspondent Jim -- well thank you so much for joining us interesting news. For frequent flyers this has been an ABC news digital special report with changes coming. In the -- on -- Hernandez in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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