Yes! Finally. Flight attendants may soon stop nagging us about turning off our phones and laptops. As the New York Times reports, an FAA advisory panel is meeting this week to iron out new recommendations governing consumer electronics for airliners. The recommendations, which could become FAA policy and go into effect next year, would lift many restrictions currently in place.
For example, according to the Times, passengers would be allowed to read e-books, listen to podcasts, and watch video on their electronics devices during takeoff and landing. Passengers would still have to turn off Wi-Fi and refrain from texting while the aircraft takes off and lands, and phone calls would still be prohibited "throughout the flight." However, there would no longer be a need to turn off phones, laptops, e-readers, and the like.
Many of us already flaunt the rules, of course, either deliberately or by accident. The Times quotes a study by the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association that says "as many as 30 percent of passengers" claimed to have "accidentally left a device on during takeoff or landing." Considering the prevalence of devices that are designed to be put to sleep rather than turned off—like tablets—I suppose that's hardly surprising.
While there have been isolated reports of incidents, the Times says regulators "have never been able to establish conclusively that electronic devices interfered with flight instruments." The paper also quotes "aviation experts" who claim that consumer electronics devices don't use enough power to cause disturbances.