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August 29, 2012

In-Flight Gadget Rules: Bloomberg talks to attorney Mary Schiavo about possibility of FAA rule reversal

The FAA announced earlier this week that it is reviewing its policies about the use of electronic devices in all phases of flight. The study, which may take an estimated six months, will be conducted by a panel of pilots and flight attendants, as well as plane and technology manufacturers.

The FAA's current policy, which the FAA says is based on FCC prohibition,  is that all electronic devices must be turned off once the main cabin doors close and until the plane reaches 10,000 feet or descends below that level for landing. Above 10,000 feet, passengers are allowed to use laptops, tablets and other electronics—but not cell phones. The results from the study will help them decide if they should permit more widespread use of portable electronic devices—a growing consumer request. The administration clarified, however, that it is not considering lifting the prohibition on cell phone use during flight.

This would be welcome news for passengers, most of whom would love to be able to do more work during a flight or pass time on Facebook, but is it really safe to use electronic devices in-flight? Former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation and Motley Rice aviation attorney Mary Schiavo discussed the FAA's study of in-flight gadget rules with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West."

In the segment Tuesday, Aug. 28, Schiavo told Chang that "there is no evidence that it [using devices in-flight] is dangerous at all, but no one has ever done the study to show that is it positively not dangerous." Schiavo commended the FAA for initiating the study and explained that the study is long overdue as there is no evidence that devices cause flight interference and that all the accounts of them interfering are anecdotal.

"There's never been an accident and certainly not a crash related to it," she added.

Learn more about Motley Rice's aviation lawyers and how they work to protect passenger rights and fight for victims' family members and injured plane crash survivors.