FAA mulls scrapping in-flight iPad, Kindle ban
What's good for the captain is good for the passengers
The FAA is planning a "fresh look" at the use of gadgets during take off and landing, reasoning that if pilots are using them then it's probably OK for passengers too.
Talking to the New York Times, the US Federal Aviation Authority said it was bored of waiting for airlines to take the initiative in testing whether electronics really can knock out flight instruments. It said a fresh look at the issue was necessary as the public was struggling to understand why they had to keep turning off Kindles and iPads at the start and end of every flight.
Airlines can allow customers to use electronics on the plane, even during takeoff and landing, but each piece of technology has to be tested fully. Anyone lucky enough to fly Virgin Upper Class will know the in-flight entertainment system is suitably tested so one doesn't have to stop watching as the destination approaches. Upper Class passengers are also allowed to use Bluetooth devices in-flight (you get a better class of Bluetooth hardware at the front of the plane, obviously).
But testing every consumer device would be extremely expensive, especially as every device would have to be tested with every model of plane, so the process could only be economical if airlines pooled resources, but critically they have little or no incentive to do so.
Making passengers turn everything off at takeoff and landing is simple, even if it can make them a little fractious at times. It also alerts passengers that the landing is imminent and gets the tech-heavy flyer with the short attention span reading the in-flight magazine too, so there's nothing to be gained by letting them use an iPad instead.
Which is why the FAA wants to get involved. The regulator has already paved the way for in-flight mobile telephones, creating a technical framework within which in-flight calling is safe and leaving it to the airlines to decide if it's worth offering the service. Something similar might work for in this instance, but even if it does it's going to take years so we'll still need paper books for a while yet. ®
This in one of many instances where airlines/airports do something pointless but annoying. A good example of a non-technical piece of idiocy is the one bag rule on some domestic flights. I have been through the charade of taking a large carrier bag out of my luggage, putting my two pieces of luggage into that bag in front of the security staff before security clearance and then immediately taking them out again. That apparently, is OK whereas having the same two separate pieces of luggage not in a large carrier bag is not OK.
Every other flight I go on either the flight crew (evidenced by the recognisable mobile phone interference on the intercom) or a passenger (evidenced by recognisable beeps and ringtones coming from luggage) has forgotten (or declined) to turn off their phone. You will not be surprised to hear that none of those aeroplanes dropped out of the sky.
If any of this really were dangerous, planes would crash on a daily basis. They do not so let's stop worrying about it.
In flight calling?
"The regulator has already paved the way for in-flight mobile telephones, creating a technical framework within which in-flight calling is safe and leaving it to the airlines to decide if it's worth offering the service."
Please God let them decide it's not worth the hassle. It's bad enough being trapped in a sealed tube full of other people for several hours, without having to listen to one half of their bloody phone conversations. It's the one remaining redeeming feature of air travel that the annoying morons have to turn their phones off.
You turn off your crap at the start and end of every flight (1) so you don't have any excuse to not pay attention to the safety briefing and (2) the transition from flying to not flying or vice versa is the most dangerous point for anything to go wrong. Given that you've probably had or will soon have ample time sitting about in the airport or on the plane to dick around on Angry Birds, is it such a hardship to be ready to listen to the captain and crew during the very brief tricky bits?
If the FAA want to improve the traveller's lot they can tell the TSA to sort themselves out.