Airlines are racing to allow passengers to use portable electronic devices such as readers and games during takeoffs, landings and taxiing after the Federal Aviation Administration announced the policy change Thursday.
Delta Air Lines spokesman Paul Skrbec said the airline already has performed the required tolerance tests on all of its aircraft and has submitted paperwork to the FAA for its approval.
"All of our aircraft are ready to go," he said. "That could come as early as today for us."
JetBlue Airways also expects to be among the first airlines to allow greater electronics use because it has a relatively small fleet -- less than 200 aircraft -- and only two types of planes, said spokeswoman Jenny Dervin. "We intend to be the first airline to allow fleet-wide PEDs"
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the change at Reagan National Airport, saying airlines would still have to demonstrate that greater use of electronics won't interfere with each type of plane. Flight manuals, crew training and safety briefings also must be changed. But the change is expected on most flights by the end of the year.
The change allows the use of electronics such as smartphones, e-readers and games while the plane is taxiing, taking off and landing. Those devices can be used now only while the plane is at cruising altitude. The decision follows a report Sept. 30 from a 28-member committee representing airlines, manufacturers, electronics makers, pilots and flight attendants.
"We found that we could protect aviation safety and at the same time address the passenger desire for use of their portable devices," Huerta said. "The committee determined that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices."
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Connecting to the Internet remains prohibited when the plane is less than 10,000 feet in the air. Voice calls also are banned during the entire flight, under a Federal Communications Commission rule.