What's the Latest Development?

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials announced today (Oct. 31) that it would no longer require airlines to prohibit the use of certain electronic devices during takeoff and landing. However, they have given airlines permission to determine how and when to lift the ban for their individual fleets. In a statement, the agency says that it expects them to prove "that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year."

What's the Big Idea?

The question of whether in-flight use of electronic devices posed a safety threat has been debated for some time. With this announcement, the FAA's original position -- that radio signals could interfere with sensitive equipment systems -- has apparently been debunked, at least to some extent, by its own investigation panel of aviation experts. For better or worse, passengers still can't use their phones to make calls at any time during flight, but so long as the device remains in airplane mode, they can do almost anything else that doesn't require a wi-fi connection.

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