FAA Panel Backs Gadgets For Takeoff And Landings: What That Means In Australia

According to reports, the US Federal Aviation Administration advisory committee is set to recommend that restrictions be relaxed on passenger use of smartphones, tablets, e-readers and the like. It’s great news to be sure — but there are some catches — and a complex process to unfold before any changes take place in Australia. Here’s why.

Firstly, the recommendations won’t be formally delivered until early next week. What we’re hearing today are leaks from unnamed officials who were reportedly part of the behind-closed door meetings and asked to avoid the media.

And don’t miss this: downloading, browsing or talking on the phone will still be banned.

If things go as expected, the next step is for the FAA to actually decide how to handle the recommendations. “If they do agree, there will be a further consultation process that could take weeks, months or even years,” a spokesperson for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) explained to Gizmodo.

As we reported earlier this week, CASA is watching with interest.

In the US, restrictions could be eased as soon as 2014. Worse case: airlines could be forced to seek approvals one at a time. Thankfully, one US senator has already come out saying she’ll use legislation if the FAA doesn’t “act swiftly” enough.

Australia presents different hurdles. CASA told Gizmodo that the process involves the airlines themselves approaching the body to request change. They’ll also need to provide evidence that there is no risk, likely using data from US partner carriers.

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