New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

FAA Still Looking at Digital Device Use During Takeoff and Landing

A year ago, it was revealed that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration was reexamining regulations regarding the use of digital devices like the iPad or Amazon Kindle during taxi, takeoff and landing of commercial aircraft.

Today, The New York Times reports that the industry group working with the FAA to study the issue hopes to loosen restrictions by the end of the year. However, there are still details to work out regarding what devices will be acceptable during flight and what 'airplane mode' means.

According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.

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.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) promised at the end of last year to introduce legislation to force the FAA to loosen its restrictions if it doesn't choose to do so on its own. The senator was particularly frustrated because airline pilots can use iPads in the cockpit in all phases of flight, while customers are restricted to seemingly arbitrary altitude limits.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

23 months ago
Can't tell you how many flights I've been on where passengers simply hide their devices when the FA walks by, but don't turn them off.
Rating: 20 Votes
23 months ago

Anytime you mention. A US government department it turns into name calling and slurring.


The FAA are a bunch of poo-poo heads!
Rating: 11 Votes
23 months ago
didn't Mythbusters already rule on this?
Rating: 10 Votes
23 months ago

i never turn my phone off or in airplane mode. i've also never been in a plane crash. i've sent numerous text and made calls from a commercial plane while in flight(lower altitudes where service is available), nothing bad has ever happened.


I do agree with you that it's not really a safety issue. However, you cannot just do whatever you decide. On a plane ,as in life, it's not just about you. It's about taking the safety of every other person on board into your hands. The Captain is the boss of every flight. Not any passenger. I fly all the time and if every passenger just did whatever he or she wanted to do it would be a safty risk. I do turn my phone to airplane mode simply because I don't want to take a chance on being wrong. Lots of innocent lives and families are not worth my text getting through.

I have been diverted to another airport once because a guy wouldn't get off his phone during a flight. FA ask nicely. He refused to listen. Captain landed the place. Had the guy removed and we were several hours late getting to our final distinction. Trust me his call/text wasn't that important. But he was only thinking about himself.
Rating: 8 Votes
23 months ago

Can't tell you how many flights I've been on where passengers simply hide their devices when the FA walks by, but don't turn them off.


If these devices posed a real risk (interference to instruments, etc) they they would not allow regular citizen on board with those devices.

We are stuck in a tube for X hours, if we can entertain ourselves so be it!
Rating: 7 Votes
23 months ago
Oh my God yes my world has ended because when I flew I had to shut down my iPad for 10 minutes, what is this world coming to?

I demand we all marsh to the White House in protest, we don't spend enough time with our iPads and iPhones and we spent way too much time interacting with fellow human beings...
Rating: 7 Votes
23 months ago

If they did, the study was flawed. Mythbusters does not have the money or the resources to test this.


The Mythbusters episode in question couldn't exhaustively test this, because they don't have access to the dozens of models of commercial airliners flying today, but nothing they did produced even the slightest effect on any of their test plane's system.

With multiple tens of thousands of flights per day, with dozens (or even hundreds) of passenger-carried phones remaining fully *ON* during all phases of flight, the sheer lack of *any* hard evidence of interference strongly points to it being a non-issue.

If FAA guidelines required that all children under the age of 5 be wrapped in plastic bags from the neck down in order to prevent peeing on seats, but thousands of such children flew unwrapped without a single confirmed incident of a moistened seat cushion, people would be just as right in assuming that the rule was pointless.
Rating: 6 Votes
23 months ago
There is the slightest, most remote possibility that commenters on this subject across every blog on the web actually have no clue what they're talking about...and that this drawn out process to establish the safety of using devices during take off/landing has some significant merit.

Just a thought.
Rating: 6 Votes
23 months ago

i never turn my phone off or in airplane mode. i've also never been in a plane crash. i've sent numerous text and made calls from a commercial plane while in flight(lower altitudes where service is available), nothing bad has ever happened.


I've done this as well. Hell, I received an incoming call mid altitude (climbing to 35k feet) from a friend, AT&T does have good reception up there. It was a short call once I explained I was in the middle of a flight and really couldn't talk.


didn't Mythbusters already rule on this?


They did, and they ruled any modern (post 1980s) aircraft will be unaffected by any and all consumer electronics. In other words, the myth that phones interfere with planes was, for lack of a better suitable word: BUSTED
Rating: 5 Votes
23 months ago

Another thing to note is people are saying "They can do it why can't we?!" Pilots equipment is thoroughly tested by both FAA and respective airlines. Also they are trained professionals who shouldn't have to deal with these arguments those rules are out of their control.

Is society this much in the rat race that you can't wait 15 minutes to get the chime your at 10,000 feet?


The problem is that it is often not just 15 minutes. In fact, my recollection was that the Baldwin issue was due to a flight delay and the plane was just sitting there waiting for clearance.

The rule on all the flights I've been on is that when the cabin door is closed the devices need to be turned off. Fine. But what if there is a delay, or de-icing, or a delay with de-icing, or thunderstorms at the destination airport, etc., etc.

The time can easily stretch to many hours, particular when connections are added in. *That* becomes much more problematic than your hypothetical 15 minutes from door close to 10,000 and 15 minutes from 10,000 back to gate.

----------

The electrical systems on a plane are hardened to keep errant signals from causing a malfunction


Exactly. These aircraft fly past radio towers, cell towers and tv towers. They *have* to be hardened.
Rating: 5 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]