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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 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?

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