The Federal Aviation Administration may be moving to allow the use of electronic reading devices during takeoff and landing, reports The New York Times. The administration may be set to relax the rules within the year for devices such as tablets and e-readers, allowing them to be switched into airplane mode rather than powered off; however the new rules would not cover cellphones. The FAA began studying the issue last year, and its findings will be announced by the end of July. An anonymous FAA official told The New York Times that the administration is under great pressure to either allow the devices or to provide a scientific explanation for why they cannot be used.
The New York Times reports that the administration is also examining what the term "airplane mode" should mean, how to create rules that will apply to devices not yet on the market, and how to avoid requiring flight attendants to police passengers' device usage. Pending legislation from Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) may reach the same end should the FAA choose not to relax its rules on the use of in-flight electronics. McCaskill expressed her frustration over the FAA's rules to The New York Times saying, "A flying copy of War and Peace is more dangerous than a Kindle." McCaskill's legislation is only one piece of the growing pressure against the FAA: outgoing FCC chairman Julius Genachowski issued a letter to the FAA in December urging the administration to relax its rules as well.