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Easing seen in ban on passengers using tech devices on planes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel is expected to recommend a significant rollback of restrictions on the use by passengers of electronic devices on planes, The New York Times reports.

The panel is scheduled to meet this week to finalize its recommendations and is expected to send them to the FAA by month's end, the newspaper says. They'll probably go into effect next year.

According to the Times, which cited anonymous panel members, the suggested guidelines would allow the reading of e-books and other publications, watching videos and listening to podcasts.

But the ban on making phone calls, e-mailing, texting and using Wi-Fi is likely to continue.

"The coming change represents a cultural milestone of sorts for the digital age, the moment when mass travel and mass communication finally meet," the Times observes.

Regulators, says the newspaper, "have never been able to establish conclusively that electronic devices interfered with flight instruments." In addition, passengers frequently forget to turn off their devices, or simply ignore the ban on their use, which has frustrated many of them.

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