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FAA To Reevaluate Inflight Electronic Device Use 336

coondoggie writes "If you have been on a commercial airline, the phrase 'The use of any portable electronic equipment while the aircraft is taxiing, during takeoff and climb, or during approach and landing,' is as ubiquitous but not quite as tedious as 'make sure your tray tables are in the secure locked upright position.' But the electronic equipment restrictions may change. The Federal Aviation Administration today said it was forming a government-industry group to study the current portable electronic device use policies commercial aviation use to determine when these devices can be used safely during flight."
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FAA To Reevaluate Inflight Electronic Device Use

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:28PM (#41141265)

    with half a dozen mobile devices, or more - and most of them are on w/ cell signal while I'm flying...

    They really should review that policy.

    • Do you realize how fast you hop from tower to tower at 600 mph? I've heard that's one of the reasons cell phones in particular are a problem, millions of phones doing potentially dozens of tower hand offs per minute is enough to cause real problems with the cell phone infrastructure.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        So the ban is about protecting AT&T and Verizon, and not flyers?

        I'd guess that there are more handoffs on the 405 freeway during rush hour than on any given flight.

      • It has been a while since I've been on a plane, but do cell phones make connections to towers during flight?
        • by neo8750 ( 566137 )
          Depend son how high the flight is. But i can say that the flight I am on right now at 32,000 feet my cell wont connect. Yeah i paid for wifi in the sky lol.
        • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @05:18PM (#41142015)

          It has been a while since I've been on a plane, but do cell phones make connections to towers during flight?

          Of course. Why wouldn't they?

          I've gotten off a flight and found messages on my phone that had arrived while I was at 30,000 feet somewhere over Idaho.

          Unfortunately for cellphone users, the ban on cellphone use in flight is not an FAA ban, it is an FCC ban, and has nothing to do with passenger safety. It is entirely to do with the specific allocation of the frequencies in use as LAND MOBILE and not AIR MOBILE. The FAA won't be able to change that.

        • I've received text messages in-flight when I've forgotten to turn my phone off. Nexus One phone.

  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:28PM (#41141269) Journal

    I'm ok with the FAA loosening up on those poor, persecuted, electromagnetic waves that have historically been singled out for persecution and discrimination.

    However, I would like to see the draconian measures previously reserved for in-flight electronics applied with redoubled fury against those who have the temerity to emit high volume and/or pitch sound waves, or substantial levels of visible-range electromagnetic radiation during nighttime hours. Those are the true hazard to consumer aviation.

    Permit wifi and crack down on screaming children.

    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @05:07PM (#41141871)

      Permit wifi and crack down on screaming children.

      We all hate screaming children, especially those of us who fly with them.

      What we hate even more are clueless assholes who don't have children telling us what rotten people we are because our three year old lost patience during the last hour of a 6 hour flight delayed two hours.

      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:17PM (#41145209) Homepage Journal

        We all hate screaming children, especially those of us who fly with them.

        Benadryl. Seriously. Yeah, yeah, it seems terrible to "drug your child"... but it's safe stuff that you give them many times for many other reasons (fevers and whatnot), and it will not only make the flight more pleasant for you and your neighbors, but for your child as well. Don't overdo it, just a normal dose will make the child sleepy enough to overcome the strangeness of the environment -- which is what is keeping the tired kid from going to sleep anyway -- and let him nod off.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "The Federal Aviation Administration today said it was forming a government-industry group to study" = no changes for at least 5 years.

  • Mythbusters? (Score:5, Informative)

    by KhabaLox ( 1906148 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:31PM (#41141345)

    Didn't Mythbusters cover this?

    Yes. []

    • by rikkards ( 98006 )

      Yep and I think most of the reasoning behind not allowing people to use "electronic devices" is to basically make sure when the shit hits the fan that no one can't hear the steward(ess) telling people to kiss their butts goodbye. I think when you get down to it that is the real reason but they throw up the EMI boogieman because Joe Q Public would ignore requests not to have their device off otherwise.

    • by jb11 ( 2683015 )
      Because Mythbusters is a shining example for accurate and effective testing through the use of the scientific process.
    • So? That's like noting Phineas and Ferb or Strawberry Shortcake covered it. Despite the hype surrounding them, the Mythbusters are not scientists and scientific accuracy and facts always take a backseat to a big boom or other entertainment.

      • OMG, you're right. Mythbusters is exactly like an animated show with a target demo of preschool aged kids.

  • by etherwalker ( 78824 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:32PM (#41141351)

    I would bet that more than 50% of devices on planes are already left on for takeoff and landing. The only thing being turned off is the screen.

    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      A good deal of people don't even understand that turning off the screen and turning off the device are not the same thing.
  • Proximity (Score:5, Funny)

    by WebManWalking ( 1225366 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:35PM (#41141405)
    Hey, wait. Why is this post adjacent to "How Long Do You Want to Live?"
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @04:36PM (#41141429)

    ...we have the safety zealots who believe that if bans of electronic devices in-flight reduce the risk of crashes by .00000001% then the ban makes sense, because, hey, who's in favor of crashing an airplane? (Those of you raising their hands in favor, please stay seated, a TSA agent will be with you shortly).

    In the other corner, we have the airlines, who are opposed to in-flight use of devices to the extent that using such devices denies them their God-given right to monetize every last moment spent on an airliner and that even if making a cellular data connection call in flight wasn't likely to be unreliable, it might keep someone from having to spend $19.99 on BoGo in-flight internet service.

    Watching, of course, are all the people who have inadvertently and intentionally left their electronics on and somehow managed to land safely at their destination with the most harrowing part of the flight being the gross weirdo in the seat next to them or the smell coming from the aft lavatory.

  • Here in Canada at least you are not supposed to use cell phones while you are in the building.
    Very annoying, since when you go to the hospital you have no idea how long it will take and it can take longer than many flights.

    • That's not true. The hospitals in my area (Fraser Valley, BC) only ask you to turn phones off near the Radiology lab. 15 years ago it was the whole hospital, though.

    • If you're in the hospital as a patient, you likely aren't needing your cellphone (although the waiting room can addmittedly get boring). If you're in as a visitor, just step outside -- most hospitals have "phone bays" outside the main building where people can send and receive calls.

      • When both myself and the wife had cause to be in hospital (at separate times) there was no restriction whatsoever on cell phones

  • As others have said, this is not about electrical interference but social control. What's the difference between someone reading harry potter on a 1lb device or reading it in it's 10 lb hardcover form? The greater danger is from the projectile the book becomes in a crash. But since there is no FUD means for banning the book, they allow you to read it. But in reality there is no difference so long as the plane doesn't crash.

  • This is taken straight from TFA, but this is really the meat of TFA
    The FAA said it is looking for comments in the following areas:
    • Operational, safety and security challenges associated with expanding PED use.
    • Data sharing between aircraft operators and manufacturers to facilitate authorization of PED use.
    • Necessity of new certification regulations requiring new aircraft designs to tolerate PED emissions.
    • Information-sharing for manufacturers who already have proven PED and aircraft system compatibil
  • The moment I have to sit and listen to the guy next to / behind / in front / etc. of me talk all flight long on his cell phone is the moment I stop flying. Cell phone usage should still be banned unless people can fully embrace the Japanese culture around public phone usage (i.e. go hide somewhere people can't hear you, and then still whisper and cover the phone).


    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      Or you could pay $0.50 and get a pair of earplugs so that you can have your quite and they can have their conversations instead of you trying to demand that every other person in society bend their behavior to your whim.
  • Are they more or less likely to spontaneously errupt in flames when on, or when off?

  • what i don't want to hear is that a Pilot 1 Got a High Score in Angry Birds 2 "landed" a Plane in a Mountain

    oh and for those that say "But I have an IPod Pico so why should i have to turn it off" i give you a lesson in basic Physics

    Mass Times Acceleration = Force so even 2.31 grams flying about the cabin (at 45meters per second) can hurt somebody

    (and btw im all for a Pilot having an iFly (Commercial Pilot edition) Ap installed just stay away from Angry Birds while In Flight)

  • by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @07:45PM (#41143819)

    This ban on wireless has always been a red herring. Mobile devices typically operate at a couple of watts, tops. Meanwhile, while taking off or landing, a plane is going to pass fairly close to many cell towers, each of which is belting out much more powerful, much more continuous signals.

    And nothing happens.

    Planes are also hit with radar from ATC, MET, TCAS, and more, plus massive signals from broadcast media. All the time.

    And nothing happens.

    Banning this stuff was partly out of what-if fears, and partly because it was an area where the agency and airlines could impose their control upon the public. They really and truly get off on being able to tell us to stand there, do this, don't do that, don't bring water, don't use your phone, don't use your GPS, don't use your laptop, and so on, with "it's against the law" as justification 1, "it's policy" as justification 2 and "We'll arrest you sucka!" as justification 3, and finally to sum up them all: "OMG the plane might crash!"

  • Arm chair pilots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kerneloops ( 2629783 ) on Monday August 27, 2012 @11:01PM (#41145119)
    Nothing like passengers, that's you people, telling me in the cockpit how there is no interference. You are correct, if your mobile is a CDMA device, I won't hear it in my headset, but GSM is another matter, AT&T's frequency band being the worst offender. Granted the interference is subtle, but the "tower pinging" is most definitely there. Not all the time, typically around 10,000' and below. But please continue to explain how it doesn't bother me, or my fellow pilots. After all, you are the paying customer, and the customer is always correct.

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