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iPad no flight risk says Federal Aviation Authority

American Airlines allowed to use in-cockpit fondleslabs “in all phases of flight”

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Being asked to switch off your electronic devices during the takeoff and landing phases of a flight now looks even more anachronistic, after American Airlines announced it has been given permission to let its pilots use iPads in the cockpit “in all phases of flight”.

The airline is chuffed that the Federal Aviation Administration will let it do so, as the fondleslabs will store documentation that collectively weighs 35 pounds but which pilots must schlep aboard every flight. Replacing that slab of dead tree with a fondleslab is expected to save US$1.2 million of fuel each year.

That's a nice win for American and for punters, who can hope it translates into lower fares.

A nicer win may come from the fact that if the FAA thinks it is safe for an iPad to operate and emit electromagnetic radiation in the computer-packed confines of a cockpit, surely it becomes harder to justify the order to turn off other machines further back inside the plane.

Commercial airline pilot and blogger Patrick Smith has noted that the ban on using electronics is more about preventing them becoming projectiles if a plane hits turbulence. His verdict on the ban on in-flight mobile use is that “the FAA are merely erring on the better-safe-than-sorry side” rather than preventing any crashes.

American will start to use iPads in its 777 aircraft immediately and plans to stop issuing paper flight manuals for all of its fleet in early 2013.

The airline is also testing fondlesabs for cabin crew, writing that “... our Flight Attendants have also been piloting an initiative on handheld tablets, which will give them better information about the customers on their flight and their travel needs.” ®

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