Barry Eitel

Texters, tweeters and eReaders rejoice: the Federal Aviation Administration will probably loosen regulations on personal electronics on flights. The loosening was recommended by a panel consisting of 28 experts who believe people can have more freedom as they taxi, takeoff and land.

The exact recommendations are not being made public; however, many postulate that the new regulations will mean that certain electronics, like e-Reading devices, will be allowed for the entire flight.

The FAA released a statement saying that the report will be released in September. It also hinted that the agency is listening to consumer interest about how they’re able to use their electronics on-board a plane.

“The FAA recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft, that is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions,” according to the statement. “We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps.”

This statement comes on the heels of a study that revealed that almost a third of airplane travelers do not completely turn off their personal electronics while flying.

“This study showed us that most travelers are using their PEDs as often as possible while traveling, and many would like even more opportunities to use their devices” Russell A. Lemieux, executive director of Airline Passenger Experience Association, the group that conducted the study. “The data in the study reveals important insights into actual passenger behavior, which we hope the FAA will find useful as it deliberates on this issue.”

Nick Stockton over at Wired thought the jubilation over the possible ban-lifting was ill-informed.

“Attention all techno-umbilical jet-setters and social media addicts: The FAA is not going to let you use your cellphones in the air or end the holy war against electronics during takeoff and landing,” Stockton wrote.

He doesn’t think phone calls will ever be allowed, along with over limitations.

“Even if the ban gets overturned, there will still likely be restrictions in place. You’ll probably never be able to make calls during takeoff and landing,” Stockton concludes, “and don’t get any ideas about setting up your three-screen ProTools editing suite the moment you buckle in. Nobody said anything about abolishing the ‘tray tables up’ rule, either.”

However, others warn that the lightening of restrictions could be a curse disguised as a blessing. Do we really want a whole plane full of passengers screaming on their cell phones over the roar of the jet engines?