Please, please, please, for the love of all that is good and pure, let this report be true: Nick Bilton wrote on the New York Times Bits blog that an FAA
representative told him that the agency is re-evaluating its policy on electronic devices on its flights. Specifically, he wrote
When I called the F.A.A. last week to pester them about this regulation — citing experts and research that says these devices could not harm a plane — the F.A.A. responded differently than it usually does. Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the F.A.A., said that the agency has decided to take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes.
Air travel is already a pain, between long drives to the airport, having to throw away hair gel or hand sanitizer because they’re in a bottle that’s 0.5 ounces too large, sitting around idly while waiting to board, and aircraft seats designed to only accommodate individuals under 5’4”, but being unable to use electronic devices for the long ascent and descent of the flight because they may interfere with the aircraft’s controls just takes the cake.
For one thing, if you’re on a short connecting flight, that gives you a very small window in which to use your electronic device. For another, nobody follows the rules anyway; if you’re on a flight with 75 people, there are likely 75 smartphones/tablets/ereaders that remain on throughout the flight.
Bilton notes that any possible changes are likely a ways off, as the FAA will have to do quite a bit of testing, and being a governmental agency, there will also be miles and miles of red tape. Indeed, according to the article, the FAA has to test each and every possible device (and even iterations of the same device!) individually
before deciding whether or not it’s on the approved list.
We’re no airline mechanics around here, but that sounds insane.
Worse, there’s no indication that smartphones are in the running for approval; it’s only tablets for now, apparently.
We certainly appreciate the FAA’s thoroughness in ensuring our safety--the agency has done quite a bit to make air travel a very safe means of transportation--but we’re also keen to see the seemingly unfounded fears about electronics interfering with avionics waived.