FAA panel mulls more e-gadget freedom in air


WASHINGTON — With the blessing of an influential advisory panel, federal regulators are closer to letting airline passengers use their smart phones, tablets, e-readers, and other electronic gadgets during takeoffs and landings.

The 28-member FAA advisory committee voted to recommend the change during a closed-door meeting Thursday, said industry officials familiar with the deliberations.

The recommendation will be sent Monday to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has final say on whether to ease current restrictions on the use of personal electronic devices on planes.

If the panel’s advice is followed, passengers would have greater opportunity to use most devices below an altitude of 10,000 feet, although some devices would have to be switched to airplane mode. Downloading data, surfing the Web, and talking on the phone would remain prohibited.