FAA to relax restrictions on game systems and tablets

Those who fly often enough know the drill: you're sitting on a plane, playing your 3DS or iPad, and then you have to shut it off for the half-hour or so it takes to reach cruising altitude or land. All of that is set to change in the near future, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced it will be relaxing the electronic device guidelines that required device shutdowns.

NBC News reports that the revised guidelines will allow the use of tablets and video game consoles, among other personal electronic devices, during take-off and landing. This follows a report in September that concluded that most commercial airplanes are relatively unaffected by radio interference from the devices.

This doesn't mean that all electronic activity will be allowed. You can't make a phone call or send a text, and devices that transmit cell signals (like 3G-enabled tablets) will still need that mode turned off. But those functions are largely taken care of by "Airplane Mode" settings, so at least now you won't have to turn it off completely.

"The world has changed a lot in the past 50 years," said FAA administrator Michael Huerta. "Let's take a fresh look. It will take some time for each airline to certify their fleet is safe, but we expect implementation to be soon."