The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is likely to relax its long-standing rules about using electronic devices during flights. According to this New York Times report, the FAA is expected to issue a new set of recommendations to ease most of – but not all – the restrictions on what passengers can do with their smartphones, tablets, PCs, and portable gaming devices while on airplanes. Bans will remain on making phone calls during flights, using Wi-Fi during takeoff and on sending emails and text messages during takeoff.
Airlines and pilots have insisted for decades that electronic devices cause some cockpit instruments to malfunction, but those claims are backed by evidence that is largely anecdotal, and dubious. Federal regulators have been unable to establish conclusively that electronic devices interfered with flight instruments.
While this is good news for those bored out of their minds when on long flights in the continental U.S., the rules won't likely change until 2014. Sorry.