You may soon be able to use tablets and e-readers on flights during takeoff and landing

Daniel Bader

June 21, 2013 1:27 pm

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The Federal Aviation Administration is mulling a recommendation from an advisory board to allow the use of electronics during takeoff and landing. This includes tablets and e-readers, but unfortunately not cell phones, which may interfere with the RF equipment in the cockpit.

The ban on using electronics during ascent and descent of commercial flights goes back to the 60s, and has been challenged many times since then. As an increasing number of flyers leave their hard copy books, magazines and journals at home, the cry for leniency has grown louder each year.

Many airline customers have willfully neglected to comply with the abrogation of electronics at specific times, and the report claims that one-third of flyers have forgotten to turn off their cellphones during prohibited times. No plane malfunctions have ever been blamed specifically on errant RF from cellphone or gadget usage, but the FAA has taken years to alter its approach, citing “better safe than sorry.”

The continued ban on cellphones during takeoff and landing may be less about the potential for interference and more about retaining a uniform peacefulness in the cabin, especially during times that flyers may be agitated and nervous.

Via: WSJ

  • kevin c

    I don’t think there was ever any evidence that shows cellphones interfere with the RF equipment on the planes, the ground crews or the control tower. Over the last 20+ years, I can guarantee there have been millions of cellphones that were left on and probably received or sent phone calls while the plane was on the tarmac, or on the runway, but there’s no evidence of any interference with flight operations.

    I think it has more to do with wanting the passengers to focus on the cabin crew’s instructions (maintaining orderly boarding and disembarking).

  • GordonGartrell

    If people can’t be without their devices for 15 min as a plane takes off or lands to ensure the safety of everyone on board the plane even though there may or may not be any evidence of interference going on they have a problem. A freaking vehicle that weighs 100′s of tonnes is flying in the air and a small electronic device used at the wrong time might cause the plane to drop from the air and send the passengers to their death and some jackass get mad when the flight attendant tells them to turn off their device for their own safety.
    True #firstworldproblems

    • Lumbar Jack

      1. There is no evidence of a plane “falling out of the sky” because someone was on their phone. The only concerns that have been raised are that there will be interference with the communication with the ground crews.

      2. A device operating on the 2.4 GHz band (Wi-Fi) is not going to cause interference for a device operating on the 117.975 – 137 MHz band (airplanes)

      3. If you’re worried about other people causing you even remote health risks, then why the hell aren’t you running around telling everyone to stop smoking? I mean, you can ACTUALLY get cancer and die from second hand smoke.

    • TrDxIt

      interference with communication with ground crews/air traffic control can actually lead to accidents. If ATC says that there’s a problem with the runway/landing gear and the plane can’t land, but the pilot can’t hear them/know about it, they’ll land (this is assuming they were given clearance beforehand then had a sudden urgent update from ATC).

      but you’re right, a plane won’t malfunction because of a phone. Otherwise, these will be the easiest terrorist feats ever. just buy a bunch of tickets on the plane and “forget” to turn off cell. BOOM, everyone dies. HAHAHA also, with tablets now a days, people don’t usually turn it off, they just put it on standby (i’m sure there are also people who doesn’t know how to turn it off).

      it’s not that they CAN’T be without their device, it’s also the hassle/trouble of turning everything off when it doesn’t actually affect anything. Why else would we be able to turn it back on mid-flight? it’s not like the plane functions much differently after landing/takeoff.

    • Bri

      There may not be enough evidence but it’s still a risk.
      And the consequence is way too great it may end up killing hundreds of people.

    • Lumbar Jack

      1. No, I didn’t say “there is not enough evidence”, I said “There is no evidence of a plane ‘falling out of the sky’ because someone was on their phone”.

      2. If there was a risk caused by someone’s cell phone being on, then that risk exists regardless of whether it is in your hand or in your bag. It will still be connecting to the network.

      3. Second hand smoke kill A LOT more than “hundreds” of people every year.

    • Bri

      Yea that’s why they tell you to turn it off

  • Scott

    The radio and navigation equipment in aircraft run in completely different RF bands than cell phones and wifi. Up until the mid-1980′s there were not good standards for RF interference in consumer electronics, so the FAA was probably wise to limit use of these products in aircraft. However in the mid 1980′s the FCC came down with some fairly strict rules for RF interference in consumer electronics, so this has been a non-issue ever since then. So come on FAA let’s get this done already!

    • beyond

      but someone could bring a modified or custom device that operated on those frequencies.

    • Stephen

      Nothing is stopping them from doing that right now, restrictions aren’t helping

    • Aiden

      Well actually the security screening is what’s stopping someone from doing that. They aren’t going to let you through if they see a bunch of transmitting equipment in your bag during the X-ray. I guess it’s possible it could get missed, but I would hazard a bet that this kind of thing has actually been stopped before just not publicly broadcast.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      So why haven’t they?

    • Lumbar Jack

      Because it’s not easy?

      You would need a very powerful and specifically designed antenna in order to create enough interference on the 117.975 – 137 MHz band that an Airplane would not be able to communicate with ground crews. You can’t just take a cell phone and run some software on it.

  • Stephen

    About time. I’d love to be able to listen to music on takeoff and landing, ~30 minutes less I have to listen to your horrible child screaming because of your shitty parenting.

    • Jason Williams

      Sounds to me like your parents are the ones who did the shitty job there Steve. Of course, some people develop into assholes all on their own so I suppose we cant entirely blame your parents. Although, ignorance tends to be the result of how one was brought up.

    • Stephen

      My parents knew how to make me stfu on planes

    • beyond

      What does parenting have to do with it? Some children will get scared regardless because they are experiencing something they can’t understand fully. Plus they haven’t matured to the point where they can control their emotions and behaviour like adults can you know.

    • icyhotonmynuts

      I’ve been on lots of flights. Children shouldn’t be singled out in this behavior. Loong..loong 10-13h flights from North America to Asia has proven adults can be just as…annoying. I bring a face mask, eye mask, and heavy duty ear muffs and just try to soak in as much sleep as I can.

  • Jerry Falkiner

    You mis-spelled “fortunately” here: “but unfortunately not cell phones, which may interfere with the RF equipment in the cockpit.”
    I don’t need the d-bag with no manners yelling at whoever he/she is meeting on the other end about Tuesday’s sales numbers or when to pick up the kids. Its bad enough on the ground when we land.