Jonathan Higbee's picture

Will Airlines Finally Lift The Ban On Electronics In The Sky?

We've all been there: you're sitting on your flight furiously texting away to let everyone in vacationland know your ETA. Then the flight attendant comes by and says to power that bad boy down. But do you? Or do you just tuck it into your pocket without fully complying?

According to The Week, a recent survey suggests that 40 percent of us fail to power off our electronics before take-off and landing anyway, so what's really happening? Are the pilots' gizmos and gadgets in the cockpit really at risk if passengers don't comply?

That depends on whom you ask.

The FAA has the rule in place because pilots file dozens of reports every year that suggest they are concerned that electromagnetic waves emitted by passengers' cell phones, MP3 players, laptops and tablets, etc. may be interfering with the aircraft's controls. So, that's scary stuff, right? But, and the big but here is, the evidence is theoretical at best.

Because, let's face it, if our personal electronics were as dangerous to flights as the FAA suggests, there would be problems every time we took to the air in a plane. Because, remember, 40 percent of us don't turn off our electronics anyway. Take into consideration, too, that above 10,000 feet, a growing number of airlines are allowing passengers to use the Internet onboard with Wi-Fi. And there have been no reports of dangerous interference here. So what gives?

According to The Week

The FAA announced last year that it would conduct a thorough review of its electronic device policy—but didn't say when that review would be completed. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D–Mo.) has warned the FAA that if it doesn't soon relax its rules on e-readers and other portable electronics, she will introduce legislation forcing it to do so. "I'm big on getting rid of regulations that make no sense," she said, "and I think this is one.

But when might the ban end?

It could be within a year, but current guidelines require each airline to test every singlemake and model of each and every electronic device it wants the FAA to approve for each type of aircraft in its fleet. That's a whole lot of brands, makes and models of electronics to test!

What's your Instinct? Should electronics be allowed on flights?

Comments

I'd love to be able to use my Kindle Paperwhite during takeoffs and landings. It's lighter than a hardback book and most paperbacks, and I don't even need to have its wifi turned on. If my Kindle is too dangerous to use, then people should have to put away their books.

The author misses the point...  In addition to potential flight dangers is the annoying need to listen to innate and endless one-sided conversations.  If you must text that may be acceptable, but nothing that offers sharing with your seat mates.

Bruce Warren

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