The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it has expanded passenger use of portable electronic devices, including game systems, to allow travelers to use their devices during all phases of flight.
The FAA said differences among fleets and operations means the implementation of this new use expansion will vary between airlines. However, the group said it expects many airlines will allow travelers to use their devices in airplane mode gate-to-gate by the end of 2013.
The agency said its decision to expand the use of personal electronic devices was based on input from experts in various fields of aviation, as well as the mobile technology industry.
The expanded use of devices means travelers will be able to read e-books, play games on systems like a 3DS or Playstation Vita, or watch videos on their devices throughout flights, though there will be "very limited exceptions," the FAA said.
Electronics must be held or put in the seat back pocket during take-off and landing, and cell phones must remain in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled. The use of in-flight WiFi is unchanged following this announcement.
"We believe today's decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer's increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future."
The Aviation Rulemaking Committee determined that most commercial airplanes can sustain radio interference signals from personal electronic devices. However, the FAA said in "rare instances" of low visibility (about 1 percent of all flights), crewmembers will instruct passengers to shut their devices down during landing.
No consideration was given to changing the regulations regarding the use of cell phones for voice communication during flight, the FAA said, because this issue is controlled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The FAA noted that current policies regarding use of personal electronic devices will remain in effect until an airline conducts and completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and officially updates its policy. In addition, the agency said passengers should always follow crew instruction and immediately switch off their device if asked to.
For more on the latest smartphones, be sure to read GameSpot sister site CNET's extended coverage.