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  (Source: NBC Universal)
Shutting down electronics while a plane was landing or taking off was always critical, but the FAA now says otherwise -- for pilots

Sorry, Alec Baldwin; you still can't play Words with Friends while a plane prepares for takeoff, because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decided Tuesday that only American Airlines pilots in the cockpit can use mobile electronics during that time.

The FAA doesn't allow passengers to use mobile electronics such as smartphones, tablets or Kindles during takeoff or landing because the use of such devices could interfere with sensitive electronics running the plane. They must wait until the plane reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet. However, the FAA announced Tuesday that American Airlines pilots in the cockpit no longer had to use paper flight mauals during those times, but could use iPads instead.

The FAA made this decision after conducting a test of the use of electronics in the cockpit, in an effort to potentially replace the use of paper manuals and charts. But some are wondering why a similar test couldn't have been carried out for passengers.

The New York Times called the rule that passengers need to wait until the plane reaches 10,000 feet "outdated," and even brought up the idea that the rule may just be used to keep passengers' attention during takeoff and landing announcements. The FAA said this is not true because passengers are still allowed to have books and magazines during those times.

The FAA responded to critics of the new rule by saying that only two iPads will be allowed in the cockpit; one for each pilot.

"This involves a significantly different scenario for potential interference than unlimited passenger use, which could involve dozens or even hundreds of devices at the same time," said the FAA.

It seems the FAA has a point, but critics still point out that the two iPads in the cockpit will be inches away from the sensitive airplane electronics in question.

Source: The New York Times

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RE: A load of BS
By MrTeal on 12/14/2011 12:56:23 PM , Rating: 5
I worked at an electronics assembly company where the production workers had to have ESD wrist straps connected whenever they were handling or getting components. That extended even to components like resistors or connectors, even though you can't damage those devices with ESD. The reason the company made those arbitrary rules even though they don't make sense in that case is that it's cheaper and safer to have all the workers spend the extra time strapping in for everything they do rather than try and teach them which components are ESD resistant, which are susceptible, and which are very sensitive.

My iPod classic is almost certainly not going to bring down a plane. I shouldn't have to turn it off. That doesn't mean every piece of electronics is safe, and moreover is doesn't mean that even ones that would normally be safe aren't out of spec or damaged and transmitting in bands they shouldn't be. Flight attendants are there to give an annoying speech about emergency egress and serve you drinks, not to serve as a judge of which devices are safe and which could cause a problem. There's probably a pretty small chance of a plane coming down from this, but it wouldn't take much if you had some cheap Chinese knockoff phone broadcast on Verizon @ 787MHz but due to crappy design letting enough energy out at a second harmonic of 1575MHz, which is right about where GPS L1 is. It might not bring down a plane, but you're not leaving the tarmac if the GPS signal is being jammed.

RE: A load of BS
By drycrust3 on 12/14/2011 3:25:40 PM , Rating: 2
Flight attendants are there to give an annoying speech about emergency egress and serve you drinks, not to serve as a judge of which devices are safe and which could cause a problem.

As I understand it, the origin of this sort of rule was the fact that at one time the 455KHz Superhetrodyne intermediate frequency used in an AM radio, or the modulations of it, is very close to one of the frequency bands used in the aviation industry.
Essentially, anything that transmits or receives has built in oscillators, and as you say, there is no guarantee that some fluke combination of the oscillator modulation output won't interfere with the aircraft navigation.

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