FAA Taking a 'Fresh Look' at Digital Device Use During Takeoff and Landing

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is reexamining regulations banning the use of digital devices like the iPad or Amazon Kindle during taxi, takeoff and landing of commercial aircraft. Passengers are banned from using electronics while the aircraft is under 10,000 feet, but pilots and crew are allowed to use their iPads during all phases of flight. This is especially important because many airlines are replacing pilot flight bags with iPads to reduce weight and save money.

united pilots ipad 1
Nick Bilton, writing for the New York Times:

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.

Good news for some, but there are some peculiar quirks to the FAA's bureaucratic approval process. Under current guidelines, individual tablet models will need to be tested separately -- on each different aircraft model. The iPad, iPad 2 and iPad 3 will be individually tested, each on a separate flight, on an empty plane, for the Boeing 737, 747, 757, etc. Smartphones are not being considered for approval, which will be good news for those hoping to keep the skies a relatively quiet place.

The F.A.A. said it is exploring how to bring together electronics “manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers” to figure out how to allow greater use of these electronics on planes. That’s a lot of people, organizations and bureaucracy to juggle. Plus the money to do this testing is going to have to come from somewhere.

We are a long ways off from seeing iPads in use during takeoff and landing, but the fact that the FAA is willing to consider changing the regulations is very promising.

Top Rated Comments

rotobadger Avatar
134 months ago
Although it would be nice to be able to use my iPad or iPod on and before takeoff, it's really not that big of a deal. Read a magazine or do a crossword for 15 minutes.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
caligomez Avatar
134 months ago
I always thought it was all about not having the passenger during takeoff and landing, which are key periods where things might go wrong..

We obviously all know that iPads and other devices can't bring down (or interfere) the aircraft communications systems..

I mean, haven't we all left it on Airplane mode/Sleep at one time or other?:D
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arn Avatar
134 months ago

But yes, my understanding has always been that the rule was more about removing extra distractions during the two most likely phases of flight for a crash to occur. If an evacuation is necessary, you need passengers paying attention.

That's not the reason for the rule:

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/25/disruptions-tests-cast-doubt-on-fcc-rules-on-kindle-and-ipad-html/

The F.A.A. admits that its reasons have nothing to do with the undivided attention of passengers or the fear of Kindles flying out of passengers’ hands in case there is turbulence. That leaves us with the danger of electrical emissions.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rydewnd2 Avatar
134 months ago
I wonder if they'll allow iPhones during taxi/takeoff/landing as long as they're in Airplane mode.

Too difficult to enforce
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BornAgainMac Avatar
134 months ago
The older man seems upset in the photo. The younger one looks like he messed up on something.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
parish Avatar
134 months ago
Ok for iPad owners. But what about Galaxy Tab owners?

The story seems to imply that this is "bureaucracy." But in the interests of safety, of course each device will have to be tested in each airplane. The radiation emissions will be different, and the wiring of each model of plane is different.
But if pilots are already using iPads during takeoff and landing that implies that they have been tested and proved to be safe. And let's face it, whereabouts on an aeroplane is an iPad etc. likely to be the greatest risk? Yep, on the flight deck which is stuffed to the gunwales with electronic equipment. So I would say it's bureaucracy.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

home app ios 16

Apple Confirms iPad Will No Longer Be Supported as a Home Hub in iOS 16

Wednesday June 22, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
The iPad will no longer be able to be used as a home hub following the launch of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and the HomePod 16 software this fall, Apple confirmed today. As discovered in iOS 16 code by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, Apple says that the iPad will no longer be supported as a home hub. This information will be displayed in the Home app after updating to iOS 16.A home ...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple CEO Tim Cook Hints at AR/VR Headset: 'Stay Tuned and You'll See What We Have to Offer'

Wednesday June 22, 2022 6:34 pm PDT by
CEO Tim Cook this week did an interview with China Daily, where he once again commented on on the future of augmented reality and hinted at Apple's work on an AR/VR headset. Render via designer Ian Zelbo Cook said that Apple is excited about the opportunities available with augmented reality, which is not too far off from prior comments that he's made, but he went on to say that people should ...
customize wallpaper setting ios 16

iOS 16 Beta 2 Tidbits: New Wallpaper Colors, Backup Over LTE, SMS Filtering and More

Wednesday June 22, 2022 2:16 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the second betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to developers for testing purposes, and the new betas introduce new features and refine some of the changes that Apple made with the first iOS 16 release. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Lock Screen Photo Wallpaper Customization When customizing a photo on the Lock Screen, there are two new DuoTone and...
Shazam Music Recognition Control Center

iPhone's Built-In Music Recognition Feature Syncs With Shazam App on iOS 16

Tuesday June 21, 2022 7:37 am PDT by
Since the release of iOS 14.2 in 2020, the iPhone has included a built-in Music Recognition feature in Control Center powered by Shazam. And with iOS 16, and also the iOS 15.6 beta, the feature has received a small but useful upgrade. As noted by Twitter user @someone_andrew, songs identified with Music Recognition in Control Center finally sync with the Shazam app. It also remains...
2022 back to school apple

Apple Launches 2022 Back to School Offer: Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Friday June 24, 2022 5:08 am PDT by
Apple today launched its annual "Back to School" promotion for college/university students in the United States and Canada. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad, rather than free AirPods like last year. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans during the promotion. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with the purchase ...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Second Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers

Wednesday June 22, 2022 10:07 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the second betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming two weeks after Apple unveiled the new software at WWDC and released the initial betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. Given...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple Rumored to Announce 'Game-Changer' AR/VR Headset in January 2023

Friday June 24, 2022 2:52 am PDT by
Apple is "likely" to announce its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reiterated. Concept render based on purported leaked information by Ian Zelbo In a detailed post on Medium, Kuo explained that Apple's headset will be a "game-changer" for the augmented-reality and virtual-reality market. Describing some of the headset's...