McCaskill touts efforts to convince FAA to ease electronic restrictions

Currently, the FAA prohibits the use of all electronics when airplanes are below 10,000 feet.

The agency has been studying the impact of allowing passengers to keep their tablets and e-readers on during take-offs and landings on the safety of airplane operation.

The panel that was created by the FAA to conduct the study is schedule to provide its recommendations this week, and the group is widely expected to tell the agency that it is OK to relax the rules.

McCaskill has sharply criticized the FAA for maintaining the prohibition for as long as it has, pointing out the agency decided to allow pilots to use iPads to record flight data in 2011.

The FAA has not commented on the likelihood it will relax the in-flight electronic use, saying only that it is waiting to hear the findings of the committee.

"The FAA recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft," the FAA said in a statement that was provided to The Hill this week.

"That is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions," the FAA statement continued. "The group is meeting again this week and is expected to complete a report to the FAA by the end of the month.  We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps."

The FAA's consideration of easing its prohibition on electronic devices does not extend to cellphones. The agency has said that it is only considering relaxing the rules on devices that passengers are currently allowed to use when airplanes reach altitudes that are above 10,000 feet.