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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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RE: Morony
By borismkv on 3/19/2012 10:21:19 AM , Rating: 1
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
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
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.

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