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U.S. to allow expanded electronic device use on flights

cellphone flight

cellphone flight Credit: Getty Images

Airline passengers will soon be able to use electronic devices throughout their entire flight after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration ended a long-standing ban on Thursday.

Mobile phone calls remain barred under Federal Communications Commission rules. But fliers will be free to keep smartphones, tablets and e-readers running in "airplane" mode.

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue quickly filed plans with the FAA to show that their aircraft can tolerate radio signals from electronic devices, a condition required by the regulator.

The change is likely to boost the use of gadgets such as Amazon Inc's Kindle readers or Apple Inc's iPad.

"Most commercial airlines can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at a news conference at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. "It's safe to read downloaded materials, like e-books, calendars and to play games."

Passengers will be able to connect with an airline's WiFi network and can use Bluetooth accessories, such as wireless mouse and headphones.

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