Debate: the F.A.A. and electronic devices on airline flights

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As pilots we all know that the F.A.A.’s catch-all rule prohibiting electronic devices on airline flights is a bit ridiculous. We’re required to turn off our tablets and noise-cancelling headsets below 10,000′, the same two devices that allow us to communicate clearly with ATC and display charts in the cockpit while flying an instrument approach to minimums.

Now it looks like the F.A.A. may be re-examining these rules. Nick Bilton from the New York Times recently posted a story after learning that the F.A.A. is reviewing their policies on gadgets:

“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 that 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.”

What do you think? Should the F.A.A. ease up on these regulations? Or is it in the greater interest of safety to ban anything that has an on/off switch below 10,000 feet? Vote in our poll, then add your comments below.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think somewhere along the line that this whole idea focused on electronic interference, I think passengers fail to realize that taxi, takeoff and landing are the most dangerous times for an aircraft, and they should have the ability to listen and follow the crews orders should an emergency take place(harder to listen with those noise cancelling headsets) Similarly the whole cellphone in aircraft thing, people think that the biggest problem is interference with flight instruments, when the issue is actually more FCC than FAA, cell phone towers cannot handle calls bouncing from tower to tower at aircraft speeds because it overwhelms the systems.

  2. It is an FCC thing and not an FAA issue, although the FAA being 10 years behinmd the times on EVERYTHING compared to the rest of the world doesnt want to deal with it, the proverbial hot potato. Not because it’s dangerous or disruptive–that’s ALL “Bull-pucky”—and everyone even my teenager, knows that’s a ‘cop-out’. There’s not enough airline cellphone use to disrupt their system, just ask the intelligence community who already know this. Its not disruptive to the airplane electronics, and the crew only talks to the passngers for maybe 10 min while on the ground. very easy to work around. The only advantage to barring cell phone use is to discourage annoying, loud conversations in a small space… oh wait, they already have that problem and can’t stop that on flights ( oh yeah, that’s why I fly myself)

  3. I fly both helicopters and jet airplanes. I think the restrictions on use if electronics onboard aircraft is too restrictive.HOWEVER. In thr Jet Ranger I ave experienced severe interference in thr radio due to cell phone searching for towers. If I forget to get all of those devices turned off it is not uncommon fr me to land and find the culprit. I can’t say that there could never be a problem since I have experienced it often. I do think that more modern aircraft communication and navigation systems are more likely to be insensitive to the problem. I have never had any such situation in my Citation nor in any other high performance airplane I have flown. I do not think it is important for people to have telephone or Internet connection during flights. I do think though that we should be able to se programs like fofeflight or other tracking and weather info. When we take friends on trips in out Citation we te them use a handheld Garmin with XM weather delayed. I think we should be able t do the same on commercial flight.

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