A decade ago, playing a game of Tetris on a flight I was taking to Paris, I remember an irate stewardess telling me quite insistently to stop putting my fellow passengers in danger and turn off my Gameboy. I did, but not before asking her, “Isn’t it time someone Gameboy-proofed these airplanes?” She had nothing to say, because the absurdity was self-evident.
Ten years later, and airplanes still aren’t any more impervious to being taken down by a Gameboy, or an iPhone, or an iPad than they ever were… which is to say, they are just as impervious to being taken down by an electronic device as they ever were, which is technically “not at all” but, as far as the FAA is concerned, “quite likely indeed.”
Luckily, the stupidity may be about to come to an end, at least partially, with a couple of anonymous insiders at the Federal Aviation Administration telling The New York Times that the agency is under tremendous pressure to relax their rules regarding some types of devices during takeoff and landing.
The bad news is that the new regulations would only apply to reading devices like the iPad and Kindle: if your device is a phone, it would still have to be turned off at take-off and landing.
However, if you had a tablet, or a Kindle, you’d be good to go during any stage of takeoff or landing. The New York Timesreports:
One member of the group and an official of the F.A.A., both of whom asked for anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about internal discussions, said the agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot.
As I wrote in 2011, travelers are told to turn off their iPads and Kindles for takeoff and landing, yet there is no proof that these devices affect a plane’s avionics. To add to the confusion, the F.A.A. permits passengers to use electric razors and audio recorders during all phases of flight, even though those give off more electronic emissions than reading tablets.
The F.A.A. declined to comment.
The absurdity of the F.A.A. regulation banning the use of mobile devices during take-off and landing is self-evident. Think about it: how many millions of smartphones and tablets don’t get completely powered down or put into Airplane Mode during take-off or landing every day? How many planes have they downed?
The answer, of course, is none. Then there is, of course, the fact that iPads are now helping pilots <a href=”http://www.cultofmac.com/220586/check-out-what-its-like-to-pilot-a-jet-with-an-ipad-in-the-cockpit-video/”>fly their planes</a>. Let’s hope that 2013 is the year in which the F.A.A. recovers its sanity again.