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  (Source: thetechnodaily.com)
The FAA will have to test each individual tablet and e-reader before the rules can change

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it will be reviewing the effects of tablet/e-reader use during takeoff and landing after previously banning the devices during those times.

The FAA was adamant about plane passengers not using tablets or e-readers during takeoff/landing because of interference with important aviation electronics needed to fly the plane safely. Passengers are not allowed to turn these gadgets back on until the plane is at an altitude of 10,000 feet. The FAA would not budge on this stance for quite some time despite there being no scientific proof that these devices cause interference.

Now, it seems the FAA is willing to take a second look at its rules regarding the use of e-readers and tablets during takeoff and landing. This new stance was discovered by The New York Times, where NYT journalist Nick Bilton called the FAA asking about the use of his digital reading device during takeoff and landing. He spoke with Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the FAA, who said that the FAA is now looking into the safety of these devices during takeoff and landing.

"With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cell phones, on aircraft," said Brown.

The FAA likely put this testing off due to costs and the amount of testing required for these devices to pass. In order for the FAA to approve the use of e-readers and tablets during takeoff and landing, each kind of device needs to be tested. For example, an iPad cannot be tested alone; the iPad 2 and the new iPad must be tested as well. There are already several versions of the Kindle available as well, such as the Kindle Fire tablet, and many other Android-powered tablets on the market. Windows 8 tablets are expected to hit the market this year as well. This explains why smartphones are not going to be tested anytime soon, since there are way too many for individual testing.

It's unclear when the FAA will start testing, but this could finally confirm or deny whether these devices pose any sort of threat at all.

In early December 2011, the FAA raised a few eyebrows when allowing American Airlines pilots to use iPads in the cockpit. The FAA allowed iPads to replace paper manuals and charts, and they could be used during takeoff and landing. The FAA argued that allowing two iPads in the cockpit was a significantly different scenario than several passengers using several devices for longer periods of time.

The New York Times then ran to EMT Labs, which is an independent testing facility in California that screens electrical emissions from different gadgets, for answers regarding the FAA's rules. EMT Labs said Amazon's Kindle does not pose much of a threat at all, considering a plane is only approved as safe if it can withstand 100 volts per meter of electrical interference, and a Kindle emits under 30 microvolts per meter (0.00003 of a volt).

EMT Labs also said that the "two tablets versus many" theory the FAA used was incorrect as well, saying that electromagnetic energy doesn't add up as more e-readers or tablets are used. Rather, the "noise" from such gadgets decreases as more are used.

Source: The New York Times



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Morony
By Motoman on 3/19/2012 10:12:12 AM , Rating: 1
...doing this on an individual product level, like each and every Kindle model, is moronic.

You're firstly going to be wasting vast amounts of time and money...and secondly, probably engendering lots of backroom bribery as manufacturers try to get their products tested and approved ahead of others. "Get the new Kindle Fire! It's approved on airline flights and no one else is!"

I have to believe that all such devices emit relatively similar amounts of e-noise. At the very most, enact some kind of regulation for what an acceptable amount of e-noise is from such devices and require manufacturers to pay for their own certification through some kind of testing facility.




RE: Morony
By borismkv on 3/19/2012 10:21:19 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
You're firstly going to be wasting vast amounts of time and money


The FAA is a government run department. Do you really expect them to *not* waste money doing things the right way when they can waste money doing things the hard way (AKA, the only way the complete moron in charge can figure out to get it done)?


RE: Morony
By tayb on 3/19/2012 11:19:32 AM , Rating: 2
Not to intrude on government bashing but the FAA doesn't really have a say in this matter. Congress gives them X amount of money and X percentage of that goes to this specific program. They do what they're told.

The source of most government stupidity can be traced back to Congress. These are the idiots who continue to allow us to fight multiple wars, spend uncontrollably, and enact idiotic legislation.

We keep pointing fingers at the President but he is an enforcer. If we wanted to end the wars Congress could do so with one vote. It would be easy. The President doesn't have much power.


RE: Morony
By MrBlastman on 3/19/2012 1:14:49 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The President doesn't have much power.


Umm, he has precisely 1/3 of the power. If you look at it proportionately with the rest of the government, per head he has quite a bit... but, when it comes to decision time, he has only about a third. He does, however, have indirect ability to influence the Judicial branch through appointment of Justices. How many he gets to appoint during a single term is entirely dependent on whether any are going to retire or die or not. This too, though, has a check via the Senate.

I love our system of checks and balances, it is great. Don't, however, marginalize the power of our President. It is far from that--marginal. If you put a GOOD president in office (not a terrible one, ahem), they can accomplish quite a bit of useful... change--or, a better word here contextually speaking is... progress.

We haven't had a good president in over 23+ years.


RE: Morony
By tayb on 3/19/2012 1:24:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I love our system of checks and balances, it is great. Don't, however, marginalize the power of our President. It is far from that--marginal. If you put a GOOD president in office (not a terrible one, ahem), they can accomplish quite a bit of useful... change--or, a better word here contextually speaking is... progress.


I don't have to marginalize the Presidency, Congress does that for me. George Washington reincarnated would have to have cooperation from the Senate and cooperation within the Senate. Without it he is stuck enforcing previously existing laws. Thoughts on President Obama aside, he couldn't possibly push his election agenda through, Congress won't let him.

I am not saying that the office is powerless. He is still one of the most powerful individuals in the world. The fact that we are in multiple undeclared wars is a testament of the power of the Presidency. But if Congress wanted to end those wars and remove the ability for the President to do it again, they could, and a single President could never appoint enough judges or justices to stop it.


RE: Morony
By borismkv on 3/19/2012 6:25:55 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the FAA is handed an amount of money by the federal government. They have complete control over how that money is spent. In other words, they write their own budget to meet what is granted by the federal government. According to federal budget laws (which are retarded) if they don't spend everything they are allotted, the amount the federal government gives them in the next federal budget is decreased to the amount that they spent. This results in them running the risk of overspending their budget and getting in huge trouble for having done so. As a result, most government agencies spend absolutely everything they are given whether they need it or not just to make sure their budgets aren't automatically cut.


RE: Morony
By Solandri on 3/19/2012 3:05:52 PM , Rating: 2
Fun story related to me when I was an intern at Lockheed. The FAA certification for the Lockheed L-1011 is L-1011-385-1. Why such a crazy long name?

The Lockheed employee who filled out the FAA application form was new, and for the plane's model name, instead of using the generic L-1011, he (she?) filled out Lockheed's internal airframe number for the prototype. L-1011-385-1.

When Lockheed discovered the error, they went back to the FAA and requested it be amended to shorten it to L-1011. The FAA said nuh-uh. If you want to change the model number, you have to redo the application from scratch. Including all the flight airworthiness testing.

So rather than fight it, Lockheed just lived with it. The "official" model numbers for the L-1011 variants were L-1011-385-1-14, L-1011-385-1-15, L-1011-385-3.


RE: Morony
By tayb on 3/19/2012 10:45:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I have to believe that all such devices emit relatively similar amounts of e-noise. At the very most, enact some kind of regulation for what an acceptable amount of e-noise is from such devices and require manufacturers to pay for their own certification through some kind of testing facility.


Probably but I don't really know. I know that cell phones can have wildly different SAR levels so if I follow that thought it doesn't seem unrealistic that different mobile devices could have different levels of "interference." Your second thought would solve that problem entirely though.


RE: Morony
By Rukkian on 3/20/2012 11:39:59 AM , Rating: 3
I don't understand, if they test certain devices, who is going to police it? Will the Flight Attentdent walk up check out the tablet and say "Oh that is an Ipad 3, which is not approved yet, if you had the Ipad 2, you would be fine ". They cannot possibly test all devices, nor could they enforce it.

The only reasonable idea behind this would be to get as broad of a group as they can to see if they can allow all devices, but even then there would need to be some sort of criteria, since smart phones and tablets are starting to converge.

If they say that tablets are okay, but no phones, where do you classify that a tablet starts? Most tablets can have cell modems in them, and some phones are coming out with larger than 5" screens.


RE: Morony
By invidious on 3/19/2012 10:57:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
enact some kind of regulation for what an acceptable amount of e-noise is from such devices and require manufacturers to pay for their own certification through some kind of testing facility.
Do you really want the TSA confiscating your brand new phone because they haven't gotten around to putting it on the authorized device list? Also certifying anything with the FAA is an expensive and time consuming process, that cost would certainly be reflected in the end user price.


RE: Morony
By Motoman on 3/19/2012 12:21:14 PM , Rating: 1
They wouldn't be confiscated at the checkpoint...you'd just not be allowed to have it on during flight. Like now.


RE: Morony
By Dorkyman on 3/19/2012 7:29:30 PM , Rating: 2
Why the need for a list at all? Don't all electrical products already have to pass an "interference" test? Isn't that the "UL" test?


RE: Morony
By Arsynic on 3/19/2012 11:55:06 AM , Rating: 1
Our government in action. What a bunch of morons. Hire a private firm to conduct the testing since they're so fucking moronic to think they have to test every possible device and version ever.

This is what happen when you have a bunch of old, technophobic bureaucrats calling the shots.


Why bother?
By tayb on 3/19/2012 10:38:54 AM , Rating: 4
No one actually turns these devices off anyway. People just turn the screen off and stash them for 15 minutes. If these devices were actually causing interference there would have been an accident by now.

I'm in favor of banning cell phone voice communication regardless. I don't want to hear your phone conversation.




RE: Why bother?
By rdhood on 3/19/2012 11:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
No one actually turns these devices off anyway. People just turn the screen off and stash them for 15 minutes. If these devices were actually causing interference there would have been an accident by now.


Bingo. I guarantee that nearly 100% of phones are on from the time folks enter the airplane to the time they exit. They are in someone's pocket, turned on, ringer turned off. And lets not forget that some tablets are nothing more than big-assed phones. If the FAA were really concerned, they would have phone emmission detectors and run them before every flight... to make sure that telephone in my pocket was really off.


By GotThumbs on 3/19/2012 10:33:56 AM , Rating: 4
I find the level of stupidity from the general public is getting worse as time goes by. The reality is that the public are RENTING the seats and DO NOT OWN the plane. It is NOT detriment to their well being if they/we are not allowed to view tablets/e-readers until after take-off. I do NOT want MY life put at even the slightest risk for someones inconvenience of having to wait 10-20 minutes before they can play with their fondle-slab. The number of people who are SLAVES to their phone and tablets is just sad. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WHEN FLYING...IS TO ARRIVE ON-TIME AND SAFELY. I DO NOT put MY LIFE in the hands of stupid fliers who can't live a minute without their electronic pacifier.




By Pandamonium on 3/19/2012 5:18:59 PM , Rating: 1
Consumer products don't operate on the frequencies used for air traffic. IE: You could fill a plane up with people using their cell phones and wifi, and have zero affect on safety.

The only way a device could impact safety is if someone modifies equipment to run out-of-spec. And in that case, all the rules in the world won't stop someone from interfering with air traffic communication.

So rather than burdening passengers with useless/annoying rules, and burdening the FAA to "test" consumer e-readers for interference, we ought to just eliminate the arbitrary rule to begin with.


About time
By borismkv on 3/19/2012 10:19:50 AM , Rating: 2
It's probably been a couple decades since they've done any testing at all regarding electronics in flight. I would readily agree that the electronic devices of the 80s and early 90s probably emitted enough interference to put a plane's instruments out of whack, but modern devices are significantly more electronically sound and shielded than the old stuff.




RE: About time
By Dorkyman on 3/19/2012 7:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
Not so. Even older devices have no effect on aircraft instrumentation.

This is just a power trip by the feds.

As other commenters have mentioned, most people don't turn their devices off for takeoff or landing. I have NEVER turned my phone off.

Mythbusters a few years back demonstrated that there is no issue with phones at all. Not that that will have any effect on a bureaucrat.


Why?
By omgwtf8888 on 3/20/2012 11:31:20 AM , Rating: 2
Do we really have to have these devices for the few minutes during take-off and achieving altitude? If people are plugged into their tablet will they pay attention to the cabin notifications and where they are relative to evacuation. Will people in the emergency row not be able to use their tablets (i do not want the guy in charge of the exit door bee-bopping along when the instructions are being issued). I do not have stats, but a great number of accidents occur during take-offs and landings. So it would seem that we really need people paying attention during this part of the trip. So as far as i am concerned leave the darn things off.




RE: Why?
By Rukkian on 3/20/2012 12:16:42 PM , Rating: 2
I guess if that was the reason, then why are books, magazines, and newspapers allowed? These have always been allowed.

I have no problem putting things away and going for some amount of time without them, however having the rule for no real reason with a bogus excuse is what most people have and issue with.


Its about time
By invidious on 3/19/2012 10:49:25 AM , Rating: 3
The policy on this has always baffled me. The electrical and control systems on all modern aircraft are rigorously tested to attain airworthyness certification. The idea that normal use of a cell phone or tablet could interfere with the flight is rediculous.

Intentionally mallicious use is another story, but that kind of person won't be listening to the flight attendants anyway. The only way to prevent that is not allow electronic devices on the plane at all. Telling passengers to turn devices off is a facade to make the uninformed "feel" safe.




Just laughable ignorance
By Beenthere on 3/19/2012 12:18:09 PM , Rating: 1
You'd think it was the end of the F'en world because electronic toy addicts are asked to shut off their electronic toys for 10-15 minutes when the plane takes off or lands. Ferchrissakes people GET A LIFE. If you can't deal with shutting off your electronic toys for 10-15 minutes - take the BUS and buy a clue.




RE: Just laughable ignorance
By Dorkyman on 3/19/2012 7:34:42 PM , Rating: 2
I guess some of us are bothered when stupid illogical rules try to force us to do things. Others apparently are not.


Actually they are required to.
By danjw1 on 3/19/2012 10:37:09 AM , Rating: 2
They didn't choose to do this testing. Their most recent budget included a mandate to do this testing. This isn't something they just decided to do on their own. Congress is requiring them to do it.




By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/19/2012 1:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
"electromagnetic energy doesn't add up as more e-readers or tablets are used. Rather, the "noise" from such gadgets decreases as more are used."

Electromagnetic energy (if it's uncorrelated) adds as the root-sum-square. It certainly DOES NOT cancel.




By spamreader1 on 3/19/2012 2:09:38 PM , Rating: 2
Use faraday cage's or EMI/RFI shielding on thier sensitive electronics anyway? I can understand some minor interuption on radar/microwave equipement but really how much interferance could small low wattage devicees cause?




Corrections
By Trisped on 3/19/2012 8:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
... the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cell phones, on aircraft," said Brown.

The FAA likely put this testing off due to costs and the amount of testing required for these devices to pass.
More likely they are putting off testing of cell phones since they have tested them before and found them to cause interference. If you have a smart phone which can be put into an airplane mode that would drop you into a tablet like classification (since you are no longer transmitting over radio waves).
quote:
EMT Labs also said that the "two tablets versus many" theory the FAA used was incorrect as well, saying that electromagnetic energy doesn't add up as more e-readers or tablets are used. Rather, the "noise" from such gadgets decreases as more are used.
This is not 100% correct. It is true that the use of multiple devices normally averages out to "noise". But that rare case (lets say 1 in a million) the interference generated reaches a harmonic resonance and an issue occurs. It does not happen often, or for long, but it could be an issue if it is strong enough and happens on the correct frequency. That being said, without a using a transmitter, I doubt that a dangerous event would be possible with modern devices.




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