FCC to FAA: Allow 'greater use' of electronic devices during flights

The FAA launched a study group this summer to review its policies and guidance on in-flight use of electronic devices as people have increasingly turned to mobile phones and tablets to connect with one another. To the chagrin of most passengers, the FAA said the study would not consider allowing "voice communications" during flights.

"This review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives," Genachowski writes. "They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness."

In the letter, Genachowski pledged to working with the FAA, airlines and manufacturers on the review.

The FCC considered lifting rules that prohibited in-flight use of cellphones and other wireless devices in 2004, according to the agency's website. But it abandoned the proceeding a few years later because the technical information the agency received in response to the proposal "was insufficient to determine whether in-flight use of wireless devices" would interfere with wireless networks on the ground, the FCC said.

In recent years, the agency has approved rules that allow people to surf the Web on wireless networks during flights.