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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Senator Demands F.A.A. Relax Electronics Rules

The Federal Aviation Administration could be on the receiving end of legislation if it does not change its stance on the use of electronics during takeoff and landing.

Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri sent a letter to Michael P. Huerta, acting administrator of the F.A.A., writing that airline customers were “growing increasingly skeptical of prohibitions on the use of many electronic devices during the full duration of a flight.”

She added, “I am prepared to pursue legislative solutions should progress be made too slowly.”

The F.A.A. did not respond to a request for comment.

Senator McCaskill, a Democrat, said she was urging the agency to embrace the use of electr onics, including laptop computers, e-readers, smartphones and other devices, “during the full duration of a flight.”

“The current rules are inconvenient to travelers, don't make sense and lack a scientific basis,” she said in the letter. “Airline employees have the incredibly important job of keeping us safe in the air. Their efforts are better spent worrying about rules that actually accomplish that goal.”

Last week, Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, also sent a letter to the F.A.A. in which he urged the agency to allow more electronics on airplanes. He said electronic devices “empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness.”

This year, the F.A.A. approved iPads instead of paper flight manuals in the cockpit for pilots, but it does not allow passengers to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing. The agency has initiated a review of its policies about electronic devices in all phases of flight, including takeoff and landing.