U.S. Senator Promising Legislative Action Allowing In-Air Use of Electronic Devices if FAA Doesn't Act

NewImageU.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has sent a letter to the head of the Federal Aviation Administration saying the flying public is "growing increasingly skeptical" of prohibitions on the use of electronic devices like tablets and computers during the beginning and end of flights.

The senator notes the "absurdity of the current situation" since the FAA has recently approved the use of iPads to replace paper flight manuals. She promises that she is "prepared to pursue legislative solutions" if the FAA is too slow to act.

As you surely know, the public is growing increasingly skeptical of prohibitions on the use of many electronic devices during the full duration of a flight, while at the same time using such devices in increasing numbers. For example, a traveler can read a paper copy of a newspaper throughout a flight, but is prohibited from reading the same newspaper for major portions of the flight when reading it on an e-reader. The fear of devices that operate on electricity is dated, at best. Importantly, such anachronistic policies undermine the public's confidence in the FAA, thereby increasing the likelihood that rules of real consequence will be given too little respect. The absurdity of the current situation was highlighted when the FAA acted earlier this year to allow tablet computers to replace paper flight manuals in the cockpit, further enhancing the public's skepticism about the current regulations.

While safety and security must be the top priority in air travel, the FAA and other federal agencies should also work to ensure air travel is as hassle free as possible by revising or removing regulations that have become unnecessary or outdated. It is my hope that the FAA will work, with the FCC and other federal agencies where appropriate, as expeditiously as possible to implement common sense changes to today's restrictive regulations on in-flight use of PEDs that better reflect new technologies and the changing role these devices play in Americans' daily lives. While the agency can and should use existing authorities to allow for the broader use of PEDs, I am prepared to pursue legislative solutions should progress be made too slowly.

Earlier this year, the FAA said it was taking a "fresh look" at the use of digital devices during takeoff and landing, though no changes in policy have been announced.

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Top Rated Comments

yg17 Avatar
149 months ago
And I hope it doesn't pass committee.

Seriously, I don't get why we have to have our laptops/tablets/etc. on at all times. Are we that desperate for a fix?
If someone's screaming brat is sitting in the seat behind me and won't shut up (which seems to happen to me every time I fly) you're damn right I want to have my headphones in with music blasting. Even if the law limits you to only listening to Yoko Ono or Bjork during takeoff or landing, it would be an improvement.

I've never understood the argument that an electronic device is a safety risk during takeoff. Assuming the wireless radios are off, how is reading something on a Kindle or iPad any different than reading a newspaper or book as many often do from a safety standpoint?

I concur that antiquated rules need to be looked at. I'm not sure that legal action by a Senator is required. You'd think they have more important things to worry about right now, you know, like the financial future of the country.

:rolleyes:
The idea is they don't want whatever's not properly stowed flying around the cabin in an emergency. But unrestrained lap babies are apparently okay. 5 ounce phone projectile - bad. 10 pound baby projectile - not a problem! I propose allowing electronics and requiring all infants being stowed in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
onigami Avatar
149 months ago
And I hope it doesn't pass committee.

Seriously, I don't get why we have to have our laptops/tablets/etc. on at all times. Are we that desperate for a fix?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bretm Avatar
149 months ago
This is about turning it off during take-off and landing. Passing time during a flight, that's fine. But if you need on the entire duration of the flight, and you cannot handle being without it for the 30 or so minutes that take-off and landing take up, something's wrong with you.

So now you're a judge of when a device should be permitted and a persons mental integrity? We generally try to side on the side of personal freedom in this country. Or at least we did. If its not harming someone else or infringing on heir rights, leave it be. Maybe I don't like your choice of magazine. Do ou really need to be reading that all the time? I think you have a problem. I think you are drinking too much too. Shouldn't you have a different hair cut?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dukebound85 Avatar
149 months ago
Why do you need them on?

why do YOU want them off?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
All Taken Avatar
149 months ago
And I hope it doesn't pass committee.

Seriously, I don't get why we have to have our laptops/tablets/etc. on at all times. Are we that desperate for a fix?

Who said people have them on all the time? Perhaps somebody will want to use a device as a pass time, like on a flight....
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ckeck Avatar
149 months ago
And I hope it doesn't pass committee.

Seriously, I don't get why we have to have our laptops/tablets/etc. on at all times. Are we that desperate for a fix?

What does this have to do with anything? The fact that I can't even put my iPad in airplane mode and continue reading one of my ebooks while everyone around me with a paper book can continue about their business is flat out ridiculous.

I'm not desperate for an internet connection but why the hell should I have to lose 20-30 minutes of GOOD reading time because of stupid rules that don't solve for anything? So wasteful.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)