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If all goes as expected this week, the New York Times's Nick Bilton will get almost everything he's ever wanted when the Federal Aviation Administration relaxes its safety recommendations for electronics use during take-off and landing. Flyers will get to read ebooks, listen to podcasts, or do almost anything else possible on a Kindle or iPad without using WiFi or a data connection during those crucial flight periods. The outline of the FAA's new plan was reported earlier this summer. But now, with almost certainty, it's happening

Bilton himself, along with fellow Times reporter Jad Mouawad, got to blow the trumpets on the impending change, which goes before a crucial advisory panel for the FAA this week. By the end of the month, the agency is expected to approve the new rules. They'll likely go into effect next year. They explain: 

The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, according to several of the panel’s members who requested anonymity because they could not comment on the recommendations. The ban on making phone calls, as well as sending and receiving e-mails and text messages or using Wi-Fi, is expected to remain in place.

The policy would apply "gate to gate," and would not include phone usage, which wasn't up for consideration this round. The policy could go into effect faster than previously thought thanks to what is apparently a change of strategy by the FAA for the device approval process. At first, the agency wanted to test and approve each model of electronic device individually, which would take forever. Now, however, planes, instead of devices, will need to pass approval. Aircrafts with WiFi on board have already tested for those interferences, the Times explains, helping to expedite the process even further. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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