There’s No Sensible Reason As To Why We Can’t Use iPads And Kindles During Takeoff & Landing

Around a month ago, New York Times writer Nick Bilton wrote a column wondering, why flight passengers have to switch off electronic devices like laptops, Kindles, iPads during take-off and landing.

He argued that, if electronic devices did indeed hamper with the functioning of an aircraft during take-off or landing, there should have been some casualty because of people using these devices. Fortunately there weren’t any such incidents.

While he did receive an initial comment from a representative of the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) saying, “the agency would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to digital devices on planes,” Nick Bilton wasn’t satisfied and he took it to himself  to investigate upon the issue.

He spoke to the F.A.A., Boeing and American Airlines regarding the interference caused by devices like the iPad and the Kindle and found that most of the responses weren’t even in congruence.

Bilton writes:

The F.A.A. admits that its reasons have nothing to do with the undivided attention of passengers or the fear of Kindles flying out of passengers’ hands in case there is turbulence. That leaves us with the danger of electrical emissions. 

EMT Labs, a testing facility that ensures gadgets are in accordance with government standards, tested the Kindle as well as a few other devices for their emissions.

The metric to test these devices is the number of volts emitted by the device per meter. An airplace can withstand up to a hundred volts per meter of electrical interference.

Tests found that the Kindle emitted a mere 0.00003 volts (30 microvolts):

“The power coming off a Kindle is completely minuscule and can’t do anything to interfere with a plane,” said Jay Gandhi, chief executive of EMT Labs, after going over the results of the test. “It’s so low that it just isn’t sending out any real interference.”

And these emissions don’t even add up linearly, which means that a hundred Kindles isn’t necessarily a hundred times worse than emissions from a single device.

In fact emissions of devices like voice recorders and hearing aids, which have been exempted from this rule by the F.A.A., are almost at the same level as the Kindle.

From what we see, F.A.A. and other aviation authorities around the world are continuing the implementation of an archaic rule without any apparent reason. It’s funny that while pilots are increasingly adopting the iPad, passengers have to switch off their iPads during take offs and landings.

What do you think?

[via NYT]