Why You Can’t Use Your Smartphone Or Tablet Or E-Reader On A Plane And Why That Might Change

NEW YORK TIMES: The F.A.A. said that the agency has decided to take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes. That’s going to be welcome news to the people in the United States who, according to Forrester Research, by the end of 2012 will have bought more than 40 million e-readers and 60 million iPads and other tablets. Yes, you read that correctly. The F.A.A., which in the past has essentially said, “No, because I said so,” is going to explore testing e-readers, tablets and certain other gadgets on planes. The last time this testing was done was 2006, long before iPads and most e-readers existed. (The bad, or good, news: The F.A.A. doesn’t yet want to include the 150 million smartphones in this revision.) Ms. Brown said that the administration’s current rules allow airlines to request use of electronic devices “once the airline demonstrated the devices would not interfere with aircraft avionics.” Airlines have not done this because it is a expensive and laborious affair. So, likely bowing to public pressure, the F.A.A. has decided to take this initiative into its own hands and is going to figure out a way to start testing new electronics on airplanes. As Ms. Brown said: “With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft.” Don’t run past the bookstore at the airport and start using your Kindle during takeoff just yet. There’s plenty of work to be done before these rules are changed. You see, while the F.A.A. is no longer ignoring the devices, it could very well entwine them in the kind of bureaucratic red tape only Washington can invent. MORE

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