The New York Times writer Nick Bilton has made it his personal mission to get the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) to change its stance on usage of electronic gadgets during take-off and landing.
After calling out the F.A.A.’s policy of disallowing the use of these devices for no valid reason, Nick Bilton again spoke to the F.A.A., and this time they had a slightly different tone than earlier.
When I called the F.A.A. last week to pester them about this regulation — citing experts and research that says these devices could not harm a plane — the F.A.A. responded differently than it usually does. Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the F.A.A., said that the agency has decided to take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes.
In case you haven’t followed Nick’s past reports on this topic, his earlier conversations with the F.A.A. indicated that the organization had an attitude that essentially said “No, because I said so,” when it came to allowing the usage of electronics.
Now with the rising importance of tablets and e-book readers, the F.A.A. has finally given in. There would however be a long process involved before this changed attitude of the F.A.A. starts materializing. Current regulations require an airline to test every version of a device, each on a separate, empty flight, in order to be approved by the F.A.A.
This is obviously a very resource intensive task, and to a certain extent even redundant. Why does each airline have to do this separately, when in fact the testing can be done against each aircraft type irrespective of which airline owns the aircraft? Why can’t device manufacturers themselves do the testing? The F.A.A. is figuring out a way to simplify this process by bringing together “manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers.” Smartphones like iPhones are not being considered for approval.
Nick has done a lot of research to attest to the fact that most electronic gadgets are harmless, and that most of these fears are unrealistic. Head over to this NYTimes link to read the entire article, including the research he’s done.