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  (Source: kindleboards.com)
According to researchers at EMT Labs, tablets and e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle do not pose much of a threat at all

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned airplane passengers' use of mobile electronics like iPads and Kindles during takeoff and landing due to interference, but recent results from EMT Labs challenge this ban and further raise the question, "Why not?"

Earlier this month, it was discovered that the FAA decided to allow American Airlines pilots to use iPads instead of paper flight manuals in the cockpit. This raised a few eyebrows, since passengers are banned from using such electronic devices during takeoff and landing due to possible interference with sensitive airplane electronics.

Many wondered how the iPads would affect these important electronics when used so closely to such equipment, but the FAA justified the decision after conducting a test of the use of mobile electronics in the cockpit. It also said that having one iPad per pilot versus an iPad or Kindle for every passenger made a big difference in the level of interference.

However, The New York Times now disagrees with the FAA's reasoning after taking a trip to EMT Labs, which is an independent testing facility in California that screens the electrical emissions from different gadgets.

According to researchers at EMT Labs, tablets and e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle do not pose much of a threat at all. The FAA has specified that a plane is only approved as safe if it can withstand up to 100 volts per meter of electrical interference; EMT Labs says an Amazon e-reader emits under 30 microvolts per meter when in use, which is 0.00003 of a volt.

"The power coming off a Kindle is completely miniscule and can't do anything to interfere with a plane," said Jay Gandhi, chief executive of EMT Labs. "It's so low that it just isn't sending out any real interference."

In addition, the FAA is apparently wrong when it comes to the "two tablets versus many" theory. EMT Labs argued that electromagnetic energy doesn't add up as more e-readers are used on the plane; rather, the "noise" from such gadgets decreases as more are used.

The FAA does allow gadgets such as voice recorders to be used during takeoff and landing, but as it turns out, a Sony voice recorder emits more electrical interference than a Kindle.

According to Bill Ruck, CSI Telecommunications' lead engineer, the FAA only bans tablets and e-readers during takeoff and landing because of "agency inertia and paranoia."

While the EMT Labs tests didn't provide specific results concerning iPads instead of e-readers, which are the devices in question regarding use in the cockpit during takeoff and landing, this is a solid first step in finding out why the FAA is really banning these gadgets.

Source: The New York Times



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RE: Better safe than sorry
By fic2 on 12/27/2011 10:21:18 AM , Rating: 2
How about using a Chinese knock-off of an iPad? Any chance there? How about a netbook? Laptop? Taser?


RE: Better safe than sorry
By Dorkyman on 12/27/2011 10:45:14 AM , Rating: 4
That's right, we can't do ANYTHING because there is always that teeny-tiny chance that something might possibly interfere.

Life is about living with risk. You could be hit by a truck today. A meteorite could split your skull. A crocodile could be around that next corner and cut you to shreds.

But all these things are exceedingly remote. Same with "interference" on modern aircraft.

Then why the strict prohibition? Because of inertia and a "we say so" attitude within the FAA.

I never turn my phone off on a plane and I suspect a large percentage of others don't, either. It's just not an issue, as numerous studies have shown over the years.


RE: Better safe than sorry
By Natch on 12/27/2011 11:57:03 AM , Rating: 5
Truth: An iPad, Kindle, netbook or pretty much any other device is simply not going to put out much energy. Wi-fi, bluetooth, maybe a cell phone signal.

Truth: Take off and landing is the most dangerous part of any flight, as the aircraft is configured to fly low and slow, and your chances of recovery, if something goes wrong, are pretty slim.

Truth: The FAA will simply take the attitude of, "We're the government, and we said NO!!" End of story.

Bitching about it is an American freedom, but at the end of the day, whatever the FAA decides, right or wrong, is what we're stuck with.


RE: Better safe than sorry
By mchentz on 12/27/2011 9:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
How about any of these units using 3G that is built in to some models?


RE: Better safe than sorry
By drycrust3 on 12/28/2011 2:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
Truth: An iPad uses a Broadcom BCM4329 chip to manage its WiFi, Bluetooth, and FM radio TRANSMISSION and RECEPTION!
Even if we ignored the FM radio transmission capability, the receiving part of the chip could easily use a Superhetrodyne process to demodulate the received commercial FM radio station, and that process requires the chip to generate frequencies within the commercial aviation aircraft band.
That means there is a theoretical possibility that a passenger, like yourself, who, against all rules, is "innocently" listening to an FM radio station, is hindering the reception of the transmissions between the control tower and the pilot. We need Apple or Broadcom to tell us whether that possibility is real or not, and if they can't or won't, then the ban should stay until they can.
So what is the difference between a pilot using an iPad and a passenger using one? If the pilot is using an iPad, and it happens to be causing interference because he WAS listening to a local radio station with it, then (assuming he or she is aware an iPad could cause interference) all he needs to do is close down that application and the problem is solved. In addition, if the airline provided the iPads then they should have removed the FM radio application prior to issuing it to the pilot, and told her or him the reasons why.
On the other hand, trying to find which of the 30 or so tablet users on the plane is the cause of interference is quite another matter.
As such, if the WiFi chip in a tablet could cause a problem, then to be fair to all passengers and aircrew (who aren't expected to be trained on the inner workings of every tablet on the market), it is a whole lot easier and fairer to have a blanket ban that covers all tablets rather than having long lists of brands and models, some of which are banned and some which aren't.


RE: Better safe than sorry
By augiem on 12/27/2011 2:02:20 PM , Rating: 1
The fact that you impose your beliefs on the other 100+ passengers and choose to place that risk on their lives, however small, shows a whole lot about you as a person. You choose to say YOU are single handedly capable of determining what is or isn't safe and acceptable for everyone on board, nevermind you likely know nothing about aircraft electronics, how to fly a plane, or even how to begin the process of testing for interference. I'm sorry, that's just plain selfish and wreckless. You don't like the rules, don't fly. Plain and simple. Flying is already risky enough without people like you trying to stick it to "the man".


RE: Better safe than sorry
By V-Money on 12/27/2011 2:15:05 PM , Rating: 3
I think the bigger issue is the failure of the FAA to simply test it. All supporting evidence seems to indicate that it wouldn't have any drastic (or any) effect on a flight, and if they did a test and found out otherwise, there would be no argument. It reminds me of going to the gas station and seeing the "Do not use your cell phone while fueling" stickers, when there is no evidence supporting that cell phones cause explosions.


RE: Better safe than sorry
By e36Jeff on 12/27/2011 5:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
So you want the FAA to piss away millions of your tax dollars to study the interaction of any mobile eletronic device in exestince with any commerical airplane in every possible configuration? I'd be shocked if you could fund that study for anything under $50 million dollars(and thats before the inevitable pork). Its a hell of a lot cheaper to just say 'dont use them during the most dangerous part of the flight.' And quite frankly, if you cant go 10 min without your phone, you need to get a life. I'm perfectly happy with just turning off my electronics for 10 min than to have a crap load of my tax money spent on a study to allow us to to use them for those 10 min.


RE: Better safe than sorry
By foolsgambit11 on 12/27/2011 7:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
There's no point in the FAA testing each and every product for interference. Flight attendants aren't going to be trained to distinguish a Kindle from a cheap (let's say) local Chinese tablet that doesn't need to pass American regulations. The FAA can't safely or efficiently implement a white-list policy for electronic devices, so all must be restricted.

Besides, even when devices do pass muster, damage or defects can cause unexpected issues. Or how about that cell phone that turned a guy's oven on? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/nyregion/23about...


RE: Better safe than sorry
By Reclaimer77 on 12/27/2011 8:27:08 PM , Rating: 2
There's never been a SINGLE documented incident because of EMI. I think if there was a real risk something would have happened by now.

So please, go away with that crap. Nobody's life is being put at risk because someone fired up an E-reader or whatever.


RE: Better safe than sorry
By jconan on 12/27/2011 2:08:50 PM , Rating: 2
Cept that they're all made in China including the iPad. Even some people eschew the iPad over any android.


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