By the Blouin News Technology staff

Aviation industry warms to consumer electronics

by in Personal Tech.

(FILES) An Embraer 170 airplane of Air France's airline subsidiary Regional, takes off at the Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy-en-France, north of Paris on October 2, 2012. Brazil's top planemaker Embraer reported on October 31, 2013 a 19 percent fall in third-quarter profit Thursday from a year ago, due to deliveries of less profitable jets. Net income reached $52.9 million in the third quarter, down from $65 million during the same period of last year. Net income was $5.3 million in the second quarter due to the depreciating real and reached an accumulated $77.5 million for the year. Embraer said it delivered a total of 19 commercial and 25 executive aircraft in the third quarter, for a cumulative total of 58 commercial and 66 executive jets for the first nine months of 2013.  AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Wireless connectivity during commercial flights was once seen as a luxury, but it is about to become an expectation. With the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s October 31 announcement that all electronic device use will soon be permitted throughout nearly every stage of flight, aircraft passengers are wondering why they were ever prohibited in the first place, but not complaining.

While certain restrictions will remain in place — cell phone calls, for instance, are not allowed — the easing of the regulations against wireless data use during flights indicates a general relaxation in the aviation industry towards the previously-supposed danger of electronic device interference with airplane technology. Many have doubted the safety application of the prohibition of device usage for years, but it appears as though with the increase in actual numbers of devices that passengers carry on board planes, doubt has grown into actual policy change.

And research shows that airlines are actually increasing the numbers of crafts with wireless connectivity technology on a global scale. Airlines are adjusting to the growing numbers of passengers that come aboard with wireless-capable devices by building in WiFi or cell connectivity: 21% of the global fleet of aircrafts will have connectivity by the end of 2013 and 50% are projected to have connectivity by 2022.

The U.S. is actually behind the times when it comes to using technology in flight. Emirates airlines is one of a few other international fleets that have paved the way for the loosening of in-flight gadget restrictions when it announced its allowance of in-flight mobile use earlier this year.

The change in the FAA’s policy also presents a big opportunity for internet groups to deliver WiFi to in-flight customers as airlines build out more connectivity capabilities. Soon, services that have fixed WiFi rates on flights could see competition as the numbers of aircrafts seeking to provide wireless to customers increases. So it seems as though the easing of the FAA’s policy could have been brought about by the sheer increase in available and adopted devices as well as the continued building out of the wireless-connected airplane.