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US government mandates registration of some consumer-grade drones

10/20, 10:56am

Transportation secretary claims national drone register will help with public safety

Some owners of consumer drones will need to be registered before being able to fly the remote-controlled aircraft in the future, the US Department of Transportation (DoT) has advised. Announced yesterday, a task force is being set up to help create the registration process, as well as to decide which unmanned craft will be exempt from registration, and to streamline existing registration requirements for commercial drone operators.


Briefly: JetBlue Wi-FI plans, FAA lithium battery passenger warning

10/16, 6:57am

JetBlue plans to offer free Wi-Fi across entire fleet of aircraft

JetBlue is aiming to become the first airline in the United States to offer free Wi-Fi services to its customers across its entire fleet, it has revealed. The airline has completed installation of Fly-Fi on its collection of 150 Airbus A320 and A321 planes, which uses Ka-band satellites to provide Internet connections of up to 20mbps per device onboard. The first of 60 E190s planes with Fly-Fi onboard made its inaugural flight this week, with JetBlue anticipating it will bring Fly-Fi to all of its passenger aircraft by fall next year.


Flight attendants fail to overturn FAA rule change over gadget use

05/11, 6:25am

FAA was within its rights to allow gadget use at all stages of flight

A lawsuit aiming to overturn a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule change concerning the use of electronic devices by passengers at all stages of flight has been stopped. An appeals court in Washington D.C. ruled that the FAA was well within its rights to make such rule changes, effectively ending the legal action prompted by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).


FAA works with companies for distant drone testing, unveils drone app

05/08, 5:37pm

CNN, PrecisionHawk, BSNF Railroad testing commercial drone use

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is taking a few more steps forward in regulating drones for both consumer and commercial purposes. Two initiatives have been launched by the FAA, with one involving the testing of drones beyond line of sight, and the other being a mobile app that aims to educate potential drone pilots on where they can fly their unmanned aircraft safely.


FAA speeds up drone authorizations, Amazon complains over slow process

03/25, 12:32pm

Recent Amazon drone authorization was for obsolete model

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is speeding up the process for commercial drone operators to be provided exemptions allowing them to fly. The change in policy comes amid complaints from Amazon over the application process, which it claims is so slow that its recent FAA approval it received was for a drone that has since become obsolete.


FAA gives Amazon approval for outdoor drone delivery testing

03/19, 10:11pm

Restrictions of FAA certificate only for local testing of Amazon Prime Air drones

Amazon's plan to bring drone-based deliveries to the United States has taken another step to becoming reality, thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The regulator has examined Amazon's request to test its potential service, and has granted the online retailer with an "experimental airworthiness certificate," allowing it to perform testing outdoors.


FAA warns drone user against posting videos to YouTube

03/16, 7:56am

Drone videos on YouTube may be considered as commercial use by FAA

Owners of drones flying with cameras may need to be careful what they do with their footage after the flight. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has sent a cease and desist letter to one drone user, ordering Jayson Hanes to stop posting videos taken from flights to YouTube, as the administration believed that these classed the drone flight itself as "commercial use."


FAA proposes rules for commercial drone flights

02/15, 5:02pm

Proposals rule out drone-based delivery services

Drones performing deliveries for retailers will not be offered to consumers any time in the near future, if proposals from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are adopted. The initial proposals for "small unmanned aircraft systems" would in theory allow for the commercial use of the remote-controlled aircraft, but not to a point where Amazon's drone delivery service would become a reality in the United States.


FAA works with CNN on research over drone use for news reporting

01/13, 7:22am

Study to determine possible framework for news organization drone usage

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has agreed to work with CNN and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) on a research initiative concerning commercial drone use. The agreement, which could help the FAA with its ongoing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) rules, aims to create a create a framework that could allow for the wider use of drones within news gathering and news reporting operations.


Flight attendants sue FAA over in-flight device usage rules

10/13, 7:02am

Passenger attention lost to devices during safety briefing, claim Association of Flight Attendants

Flight attendants are challenging a decision made by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last year, over the use of electronic devices by passengers at all stages of flight. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA has sued the FAA over the matter, claiming the change makes flights inherently more dangerous because passengers may not fully understand the safety announcements.


FAA orders airlines to replace cockpit screens over Wi-Fi interference

10/01, 11:01am

Displays used by pilots in Boeing 737, 777 jets affected by wireless signals

A number of Boeing passenger aircraft will be receiving a cockpit upgrade, because of wireless interference. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered for more than 1,300 Boeing 737 and 777 jets to replace their cockpit display units because the Honeywell International-produced screens were susceptible to interference from Wi-Fi and cellular signals.


Surface Pro 3 gains FAA approval for use as electronic flight bag

09/26, 2:22pm

Pilots able to replace charts, manuals with Surface Pro 3 for flights

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is now qualified to be used as an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) by pilots, the company has announced. Following in the footsteps of the Surface 2, the qualification allows the Surface Pro 3 to be used as an EFB for all stages of flight, Microsoft writes, meeting regulations from both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).


FAA grants drone exemptions, warns of air traffic control issues

09/26, 6:44am

Future air traffic control system not built to accommodate drones

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has taken an important step in enabling drones for commercial use, by granting six media companies regulatory exemptions. At the same time, it has also revealed its next generation of air traffic control system may not be able to cope with drones, as it was not designed to take into account the automated craft.


FAA grounds plane-sharing startups using private pilots

08/15, 10:41am

Online flight arrangements between private pilots, passengers blocked by FAA

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has stopped the flying equivalent of Uber from taking place, in a ruling over plane sharing costs. After a request for clarification from AirPooler, a flight-sharing start-up, the FAA ruled that private pilots could not use online services or mobile apps to offer seats on their aircraft in exchange for fuel costs.


US Government considering complete ban on in-flight cellphone calls

08/04, 4:18pm

Ban focuses on disruptive nature of phone calls rather than technical issues

Not a year after some usage limitations on airplanes were lifted for smartphones and tablets comes news that the United States government is looking to issue a permanent ban on in-flight voice calls. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is reportedly developing a "notice of proposed rulemaking," according to the Wall Street Journal, that could bring an end to cellphone calls onboard planes before they start.


Presidential executive order over drone usage reportedly on the way

07/25, 7:34am

NTIA may be called to create voluntary best practices for commercial drones

President Barack Obama may issue privacy guidelines for commercial drones in the United States, claims a report. Plans to issue an executive order allegedly involve the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) working with consumer groups, and companies planning to operate drones in the future, to create "voluntary best practices" for the unmanned aircraft.


Amazon asks FAA for exemption permit for Prime Air drone testing

07/11, 12:46pm

Amazon wants to perform outdoor drone testing in United States

Amazon has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to fly its in-development Prime Air delivery drones. The petition, filed with the FAA on July 9th and published yesterday, asks for an exemption from the FAA Modernization and Reform Act 2012, which currently permits the civilian outdoor flying of model aircraft only for hobbyists and manufacturers.


FAA document grounds Amazon drones before they can take off

06/24, 5:10pm

Public opinion request on model aircraft clarifies recreation, bars all commercial use

Amazon's fleet of drones may not be dropping packages on doorsteps anytime soon if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gets it way. In a document asking for public comment on an interpretation on the "special model aircraft" rule, the FAA points out the difference between hobby and business ventures. As the rule applies to the use of drones, Amazon blue-sky drone proposal is left on the pad without being granted permission to take off.


FAA considers quicker permitting of small, low risk commercial drones

05/19, 2:36pm

Ahead of unmanned aircraft law, a decision could come as early as November

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering a faster process for allowing the use of small, "low risk" drones for use in commercial applications. Requests for drone use have come to the agency for various business endeavors, such as commercial inspections and filmmaking in recent history -- causing the agency to consider short-term approvals before unmanned flight regulation is more formally addressed in the future.


NTSB judge rules commercial drones are legal, reverses FAA ban

03/07, 7:33am

Six-year FAA ban on drones declared not legally binding by judge

Commercial drones are legal in the United States, a judge on the National Transportation Safety Board has ruled. A fine against a drone operator by the Federal Aviation Administration will not stand, as it has been decided by Judge Patrick Geraghty that the FAA does not have any enforceable rule or regulation that applies to the usage of model aircraft.


FAA bans non-essential devices from cockpit, authorizes Surface 2

02/14, 5:34am

Rule change to help prevent pilot distraction by mobile devices

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has made two technology-related decisions this week, with both changes affecting pilots rather than passengers. At the same time as introducing new rules limiting the equipment brought into the cockpit, the FAA has given the green light to pilots replacing their bag of flight manuals and documents with the Microsoft Surface 2.


Briefly: BA allows smartphone use in flights, Google search caroling

12/19, 5:21am

British Airways allows passengers to use electronics throughout flight

British Airways has become the first European airline to allow the use of smartphones and tablets throughout a flight. The change in policy at the airline after the European Aviation Safety Agency's (EASA) rule alterations mirrors that of American counterparts after the FAA made a similar decision. While passengers will be able to use mobile devices from terminal to terminal, Reuters reports that devices are still required to go into "Flight Mode" for the journey itself.


FCC proposes allowing cellular connections, calls during air travel

11/22, 7:20am

Proposal comes after FAA, EASA allows device use in flights

Passengers on flights in the United States may be allowed to use the cellular connection on their smartphones and tablets while traveling in the future. New proposals from the FCC come weeks after the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) allowed device use at all stages of flight, and after the European Commission (EC) permitted 3G and 4G LTE connections during transit.


European flights to allow device use at take-off, landing in future

11/14, 7:14am

Incoming EASA guidelines follow similar FAA rule changes

Airline passengers in Europe will be able to use electronic devices from take-off to landing, under new guidelines. Soon to be published by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the new rules to airlines come just two weeks after the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) made similar alterations to its own guidelines for US-based flights.


Briefly: Karma touts LTE access, United Airlines permits device use

11/07, 7:59am

Karma will add Sprint LTE to service, expanding coverage to 230 cities

Pay-as-you-go mobile Wi-Fi hotspot provider Karma is adding 4G LTE connectivity to its service. Using the Sprint 4G LTE network, customers will be able to use the shareable hotspot in more than 230 US cities once it is launched in the first half of 2014, expanding from its existing WiMAX-based coverage of 80 cities. Though the current hotspot will not be compatible with LTE network, Karma will be offering "steep discounts" on the replacement LTE device when it ships.


Briefly: Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom at AT&T, AA mobile device rule changes

11/05, 5:58am

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom reaches US on November 8th

Samsung has confirmed earlier rumors that AT&T will be the first US carrier to offer its Galaxy S4 Zoom to customers, from November 8th. Priced at $200 on a two-year contract or $25 per month under AT&T Next, the Galaxy S4 Zoom has a 4.3-inch qHD screen with a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 1.5GB of RAM, LTE connectivity, and a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor on the back with optical image stabilization, a Xenon flash, and a 10x optical zoom.


Briefly: JetBlue, Delta adopt FAA changes, Instagram sponsored images

11/03, 7:54pm

JetBlue, Delta allow passengers to use devices at takeoff

Airlines JetBlue and Delta have announced that they will be allowing passengers to use electronic devices between the departure and arrivals gates, including at takeoff, according to Bloomberg. Shortly after the FAA changed the rules governing the use of such devices in a plane, JetBlue corporate communications manager Morgan Johnson posted an image of passengers armed with smartphones to Facebook, claiming its first flight under the new policy has flown successfully.


FAA relaxes electronic device flight rules for take-off, landing

10/31, 11:21am

Smartphones, tablets in flight mode given OK for use at take-off

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that it is safe for passengers to use portable electronic devices on all phases of a flight, something it has been investigating for quite some time. The new recommendations will allow for mobile phones, tablets and other similar devices to be used during the take-off and landing of an aircraft, as well as when the aircraft reaches an altitude of at least 10,000 feet.


FAA committee recommends lifting in-flight tech restrictions

09/27, 5:31am

Advisory panel suggests relaxing ban on device usage at takeoff, landing

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be taking another look at its rules preventing passengers from using electronic devices during takeoff and landing from next week. A high-level 28-member advisory committee examining the issue has recommended that the FAA relaxes the rules, with the formal report on the discussions being presented to the FAA on Monday.


FAA close to relaxing in-flight tech restrictions, decision due soon

06/21, 7:26am

Advisory panel granted 2-month extension on device report for FAA

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is close to loosening the restrictions on electronics on planes, after a long period of deliberation, according to a report. Recommendations from a 28-member high-level advisory panel and industry officials in a draft report are apparently leading the FAA to lift the ban on the use of personal electronics at low altitudes.


FAA may relax in-flight device rules by end of 2013

03/25, 12:33pm

Prohibitions against phones likely to stay in place

The US Federal Aviation Administration is hoping to announce looser restrictions on in-flight use of portable electronics by the end of 2013, according to sources for the New York Times. The people belong to an industry working group set up by the FAA, and add that the latter is specifically considering allowing reading devices during takeoff and landing, including tablets and e-readers. Devices may still have to be set to Airplane mode, though, and cellphones are expected to remain off-limits.


Senator renews FAA skirmish to loosen in-flight gadget rules

03/08, 1:33pm

Senator proposing a bill to scrap current FAA rules

In a frustrated letter to FAA director Michael Huerta on Thursday, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) expressed concern with Huerta's "lack of direct engagement" on the subject of in-flight use of personal electronic devices. The senator is proposing a bill to greatly increase the usage window of cellphones, tablets, music players, and other electronic devices before, during, and after the flight, including during takeoff and landing.


FCC adopts new standards, regulations for in-flight Wi-Fi

12/28, 5:35pm

Previous approval on 'ad-hoc' basis, new rules apply standards

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is loosening up restrictions for in-flight Internet technology. Under the newly-adopted framework, the new clearance rules are intended to boost competition and promote "the widespread availability of Internet access to aircraft passengers" according to the agency. The FAA has previously said that the FCC's establishment of universal standards will "help to streamline the process" for more ubiquitous internet access on airplanes.


FCC Chairman urges FAA to loosen airline tablet use rules

12/07, 1:17am

Letter pledges FCC support to rule review effort

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski is petitioning the Federal Aviation Administraion (FAA) chief, Michael Huerta, to "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices" during flights in a letter sent on Thursday. Genachowski has pledged to work with the FAA, airlines, and manufacturers to review policies and guidance on in-flight use of the devices.


American Airlines given approval for in-cockpit iPad use

09/10, 11:47pm

Bag with 35 pounds of maps, manuals replaced by 1.5 pound iPad

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has given approval for American Airlines to replace its flight manuals with iPad versions. The airline is the first commercial carrier to replace the satchels with the tablet, saving $1.2 million dollars annually in aviation fuel. The iPad remains the only tablet approved for aviation use by the FAA.


FAA forming committee to re-evaluate electronics rules

08/27, 10:38pm

Cellphones not on the list for examination

As promised, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said today that it was forming a combined government and industry group to study the commercial aviation policies on portable electronic device use in flight. While a large number of devices are being examined for use, the group is not considering the airborne use of cell phones for private voice communications during flight, however.


FAA vows rethink of rules on electronics during flight

03/19, 4:35pm

FAA may relax rules on devices during approach

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a rare promise to reexamine its controversial device rules. Deputy Assistant Administrator Laura Brown explained to the New York Times that a "fresh look" was coming for rules that prevented device use during takeoff or landing. "New and evolving" technology and a lack of testing demanded it, she said.


LightSquared misses $56M payment to Inmarsat for spectrum

02/20, 3:25pm

Could lose spectrum most needed for GPS workaround

LightSquared has failed to make a $56.25 million payment to UK satellite operator Inmarsat. The payment was to be the first of several payments, totaling $175 million for the year to be payed by LightSquared to Inmarsat, in a deal struck between the two in 2007, for access to spectrum. If LightSquared doesn't pay, Inmarsat can legally end the deal.


Congress clears bill to let FAA move from radar to GPS

02/08, 7:05pm

GPS promised faster, more fuel efficient landings

The US Congress has passed a bill to give the FAA operational stability and to enable it to modernize how it handles planes in the air. The provisions of the bill will accelerate the migration from radar-based to GPS-based air traffic control. The act also makes it easier for unmanned drones to take to the skies.


Testing casts doubt on FAA's restrictions on iPads, Kindles

12/25, 8:50pm

Tests suggest no effect from devices in airplanes

An examination of the FAA's rules demanding shutdowns of electronic devices during takeoff and landing has cast more doubt on the ban. The New York Times found through EMT Labs tests that the electromagnetic interference from current devices, such as an Amazon Kindle and a Sony voice recorder, was around 30 microvolts, or well under the 100 volts per meter limit the FAA demands. While iPads weren't measured, they too would be well under the limit.


FAA said to have cleared iPad for whole flights

12/13, 4:10pm

FAA could allow iPads for all crews on Friday

An apparent leak on Tuesday maintained that the FAA has already approved the iPad for all purposes. The ZDNet tip had American Airlines being the first whose cockpits would use iPads at every stage of the flight, not just logbooks. The first flight would come on Boeing 777 aircraft, where Apple's tablet would also handle charting and flight manuals.


Delta starts testing iPads with pilots

08/16, 4:55pm

Delta begins tablet tests for use by pilots

Delta Air Lines is now using 22 iPads as part of a test to communicate with its pilots. The tablets are used as electronic flight bags (EFBs) during trips, with all loaded with an identical software suite that can be further customized with other apps. Pilots also have access to their Delta e-mail account and calendar.


Alaska Airlines first major in US with iPad flight manuals

05/28, 1:25pm

Alaska Airlines uses iPad in place of paper manual

Alaska Airlines on Friday had the distinction of being the first large US carrier to use iPads as flight manuals on all flights and routes. All pilots will be receiving the Apple tablet loaded with the GoodReader app and PDF copies of all the aircraft manuals, reference charts, and other content they would need for their flights. Moving to the iPad not only saves a large amount of weight, dropping from 25 pounds to 1.5 pounds, but has active links between documents and color that normally wouldn't reach the printed copies.


JetBlue to get in-air Wi-Fi before the end of 2012

09/22, 4:40pm

JetBlue vows to bring Wi-Fi to planes in 2012

JetBlue has become the latest airline company to announce it will bring Wi-Fi to its fleet. The company, which flies across the US, will partner with ViaSat to install hardware that will enable broadband Internet and TV service on its 160 aircraft by the end of 2012. Before this happens, however, the FAA needs to test and approve all the gear.


Lithium batteries to be banned from air luggage

12/28, 3:35pm

Luggage lithium ban

Within days, air travellers will no longer be able hold loose lithium batteries in their luggage, the US Department of Transportation says. As of January 1st, batteries will either have to be inserted into a phone, notebook or other electronic device, or else dropped into a plastic bag, and bundled along with carry-on baggage in a limit of two batteries per passenger.

The issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, is that if a lithium battery catches fire while in a cargo hold, current extinguishing systems are unable to stop the blaze. The National Transportation Safety Board insists that it cannot rule out lithium as the source of a plane fire at the Philadelphia International Airport in 2006.



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