The FAA plans to explore allowing the use of tablets e-readers and other devices on planes according to The New York Times. The FAA is not, however, interested in allowing fliers to be able to use smartphones in flight.
"With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft," said Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the FAA.
While the administration is looking into the possibility of relaxing rules for the use of Apple's iPad, any changes are unlikely to come soon. That's because FAA rules require that each model of a device be tested on a separate flight with no passengers on the plane for each carrier.
That would leave testing to be done with the first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the new iPad, as well as every version of the Amazon Kindle. And each device would have to be tested on every different model of plane in a carrier's fleet.
While passengers cannot currently use their iPad during takeoff and landing, Apple's touchscreen tablet has been approved for use as an electronic flight bag by pilots. Use of the iPad can allow pilots to replace their cumbersome 40-pound paper manuals with Apple's thin and light tablet.
Now, major companies like American Airlines have begun to use the iPad in the cockpit, thanks to the FAA's exception to its rules on "class 1" electronic devices being used during takeoff and landing.
When the first iPad was released in 2010, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration decided that fliers who bring an iPad through security would be able to leave the device in their bag without removing it and placing it in a separate bin. Larger laptops with more components must be removed so they can be adequately analyzed when passing through an airport security checkpoint.