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FAA Considers Easing In-Flight Electronic Restrictions

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The Federal Aviation Administration is contemplating easing restrictions placed on electronic devices while flying.

While any changes may be a welcomed improvement, the agency's first moves may not fully appease those passengers who "absolutely must" continue to use their devices during take-offs and landings.

According to one The Wall Street Journal, a draft report is recommending the lifting of the blanket restrictions on passengers' use of electronic devices. Some of those restrictions date back nearly 50 years.

The restrictions were stiffened after the attacks of September 11, though were subsequently relaxed a bit to allow some use after airplanes reach cruising altitudes.

There are a number of experts on the committee (28) who completed the report believe that modern-day smartphones and other devices will not interfere with modern jetliners' sensitive electronics. The group based their conclusions, in part, on the reality that many fliers might power-off their screens but not the device itself.

The report states, however, that if airlines such as US Airways (LCC), Delta (DAL - Get Report), Southwest (LUV - Get Report) and others are allowed to write the rules, those regulations will continue to be much too conservative in their approach.

Change will probably be phased in slowly. The best guess is that the FAA will first allow simple devices such as e-readers and music players. Smartphones - even if those items are only being used to listen to stored music files - laptops and tablets would follow at later, unspecified dates.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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