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May 10, 2015

Court tosses lawsuit that sought gadget ban during takeoff and landing

by John_A

Next time you absolutely need to be on the phone while your plane’s landing or taking off, make sure to give a silent thanks to the United States Court of Appeals. A Washington DC appeal court has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the FAA’s 2013 decision to allow passengers to use gadgets during all phases of flight. That lawsuit was filed in 2014 by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which accused the FAA of failing to follow standard procedure before issuing its ruling. The union complained that passengers now barely pay attention to pre-flight safety demos, because they’re glued to their gadgets. It also argued that electronic devices could become projectiles during turbulence.

Unfortunately for the union, the court has determined that the FAA has the authority to change its rules, including those for electronics on planes, when it wants to. As you can see in the court documents obtained by Ars Technica, the court has dismissed the case as such:

…because the [FAA’s rule change] does not determine any rights or obligations, or produce legal consequences, it does not reflect “final action” by the FAA. Therefore, this court has no jurisdiction to consider AFA’s challenge…

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Source: Ars Technica, Court ruling (PDF)

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