Report: FAA may allow more electronics use during flights

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The agency has been studying the impact of relaxing the restrictions after facing pressure from lawmakers like Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who has threatened to introduce legislation to force the agency to make the change.

McCaskill said Friday that she was glad the FAA was moving toward relaxing the electronics ban without Congress getting involved.

“It’s good to see the FAA may be on the verge of acknowledging what the traveling public has suspected for years — that current rules are arbitrary and lack real justification," McCaskill said in a statement. "In the meantime, I’ll continue my effort to have these regulations rigorously examined until scientific evidence has been presented to justify them, or the rules are altered.”

The FAA told The Hill on Friday that no decision on the use of electronics has been made final, though the agency did not deny the likelihood of an eventual change.

“The FAA recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft," the FAA said in a statement. "That is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions.

"At the group's request, the FAA has granted a two month extension to complete the additional work necessary for the safety assessment," the FAA statement continued. "We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps."

McCaskill and other supporters of ending the ban on electronic devices during flight have argued that the FAA's previous decision in 2011 to allow pilots to use iPads to record flight data proved that electronics do not interfere with airplanes' mechanical equipment.