The Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation into whether airline passengers can be allowed to use tablets, eBook readers and laptops throughout a flight is apparently looking hopeful, as The New York Times cited an insider saying approval would likely be granted this year.

According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.

This will doubtless come as a relief to Alec Baldwin, who was once kicked off an AA flight for refusing to switch off his iPad.

The iPad was approved for flight-deck use in 2011, with cabin crew also permitted to use them throughout a flight for service information, so it’s looking like a done deal (just one done at the speed of the bureaucratic machine). It’s been 2 years since Virgin America teamed up with Google and Gogo to offer passengers free use of Chromebooks on Virgin flights.

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