FAA May Relax Electronic Device Rules

The government may soon stop making you turn off your iPad for no apparent reason.

electronic-devices-airplane-sign

The government may soon stop making you turn off your iPad for no apparent reason.

FAA (“FAA to Relax Rules for Gadgets in Flight“):

Airline passengers irritated at having to turn off their devices could soon see some reprieve, with regulators set to allow wider use of gadgets in flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to relax the ban on using some types of personal-electronic devices at low altitudes, allowing passengers leeway during taxiing and even takeoffs and landings, according to industry officials and draft recommendations prepared by a high-level advisory panel to the agency.

For fliers, the new rules would likely mean an end to familiar admonitions to turn off and stow all electronic devices. Cellphone calls are expected to remain off limits, however. The draft doesn’t make any recommendations regarding phone use because the FAA didn’t authorize the panel to delve into that particularly controversial area.

Details are still being debated by the group and inside the FAA and could change. Still, the draft report reflects a consensus that the existing rules, essentially unchanged since the 1960s, have been overtaken by dramatic changes in technology and passenger expectations.

[…]

The FAA’s anticipated decision would relax the rules for use of approved devices from the time cabin doors close to when the plane reaches 10,000 feet. Some devices, such as e-readers, could even be used during all phases of a flight, if the FAA goes along with the thrust of the draft recommendations.

The document is likely to bolster arguments of lawmakers, safety experts and everyday ticket buyers who contend the vast majority of today’s portable electronics pose little or no risk of interfering with aircraft systems.

The FAA likely won’t make a formal decision on the matter until after it receives the final version of the advisory panel’s study, now delayed two months to the end of September.

The flying experience is rather bizarre. When going through security with my children, I have to take off my shoes but they don’t. When flying alone, I can’t bring a bottle of water through security but, when traveling with my youngest, who turns 2 today,  I can so long as I say it’s for her. My 4-year-old can play with my iPad while on the ground and in the air but not the 10,000 feet in between. She constantly asks me why we have to do these weird things at airports and I’m at a loss to provide a non-cynical answer.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    She constantly asks me why we have to do these weird things at airports and I’m at a loss to provide a non-cynical answer.

    Because there isn’t one…

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    It’s not well known, but pilots already use iPads in the cockpit to aid in navigation and other flight tasks. They, and the airlines, therefore obviously don’t believe that electronic devices cause any interference.

  3. Tony W says:

    Security Theatre is what I call it. The point is to make you feel like the government and airlines are doing something about making you safe. By following a few simple rules, and encouraging active participation by passengers, people feel better.

    I, for one, am tired of being treated like a child.

  4. Franklin says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    She constantly asks me why we have to do these weird things at airports and I’m at a loss to provide a non-cynical answer.

    She might as well get used to cynical answers.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, and she usually gets them.