Flying high with gadgets, coming soon?

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jun 21, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Flying high with gadgets, coming soon?

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Jun 21, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The Federal Aviation Administration issued rules on gadgets in flight when cellphones first became popular. There were fears they could interfere with planes’ navigational systems. So passengers are told to turn off their electronic devices at the beginning and end of a flight. But today’s gadgets have weaker signals. So, some experts say, interference should be less of a problem.

The FAA has asked a government-industry group to look into relaxing the rules. Its final report is due this fall. If most of the restrictions are lifted, could it be a boon for the airlines? Or possibly for manufacturers — who’d get lots of business retrofitting planes? Not according to airline analyst Darryl Jenkins.

“This is not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” he says. “Ultimately, if anything comes from this, it will be modifications to the aircraft, and I doubt the modifications are going to be that expensive.”

Jenkins says that’s because most airlines upgraded their fleets over the past ten years. Everybody’s flying pretty new planes, and many with Wi-Fi systems.

The study commissioned by the FAA isn’t looking into allowing cellphone conversations during flights. Jenkins says airlines are afraid passengers would complain about that.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.