FAA to Review Rules Regarding Tablet/E-Reader Use During Takeoff, Landing
March 19, 2012 10:00 AM
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
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.
The New York Times
"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
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