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FCC Chief Urges FAA To Ease Airplane Electronics Ban 242

Hugh Pickens writes "AFP reports that Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski is calling for an easing of the ban on using mobile phones and other electronic devices on airplanes during takeoff and landing, saying devices such as smartphones 'empower people' and can boost economic productivity. 'I write to urge the FAA to enable greater use of tablets, e-readers and other portable electronic devices during flight, consistent with public safety,' the FCC chief said in the letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. The ban is in place based on the assumption that devices could interfere with an airplane's navigation equipment. But a number of news stories have questioned the validity of this claim, and many point out that some people forget to turn off their devices during flights. The FCC studied the question several years ago but found insufficient evidence to support lifting the ban at the time. But not everyone has been forced to put their gadgets away. Earlier this year the FAA approved iPads instead of paper flight manuals in the cockpit for pilots, but the agency still refuses to allow passengers to read on Kindles and iPads during takeoff and landing."
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FCC Chief Urges FAA To Ease Airplane Electronics Ban

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  • Safety (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:42AM (#42224939)

    I always assumed it was because takeoff and landing are done at the lowest altitiudes, and have a higher risk of an emergency happening. Having items stowed and not being distracted may help in surviving an emergency. The fact that passengers can't even manage the feign interest in the safety instructions makes me question if people could pry their eyeballs away from their super important game of angry birds in the event of an emergency :) I've seen plenty of people (of all ages) get sucked into tv and computers so much that it appears they are in a trance and they don't respond to verbal directions as if they hadn't even heard them. I fly frequently, but I say keep them off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @12:01PM (#42225405)

    For crying out loud! You've got TWO kidneys! Think of how many starving children that will feed!

  • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:02PM (#42226265) Homepage Journal
    Have you ever heard the bleep-bleep-beep-beep-etc sound coming out of your PC speakers when your cell phone is next to it and there is an incoming call/text? That is because the FCC requires pretty much everything "must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation". Do you want that kind of noise going through the cockpit electronic, even if you did some tests and found it should be safe?
  • by zenaida_valdez ( 599247 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:19PM (#42227419)

    "Pilots can use them, passengers can't?" Here's why. I spent my career in aerospace, the final two years on experiments involving these Electronic Flight Bags (In my case, ruggedized PCs, not iPads.) There has been hundreds of hours of testing, both in labs and aircraft to show that a particular model of iPad will not cause electronic interference to the controls or other safety critical systems... for that particular iPad model only. The pilot can't just go buy the next gen fondle slab and carry it aboard. Only the model and rev that has been approved. New hardware would require the testing process to begin all over again.

    So, maybe if the avionics supplier who bought them from Apple and spent a lot of money going through the approval process would allow you access to their proprietary certification data, you could make a case to the FAA to allow you to use --that exact iPad-- during takeoff and landing. Good luck.

  • Re:stupid rule (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:20PM (#42227437)

    Parent needs to be modded down.

    There is nothing insightful, intelligent, researched or valid about this argument.

    I was almost done writing a very detailed, intelligent explanation of how EMI manifests in many ways with a few anecdotes from my experience building aircraft and as an audio tech, but then I remembered this is the internet and you're clueless and probably not interested in being corrected.

    So, I'm posting for the benefit of other Slashdotters in the hope that this post will help a few people who modded parent up realize that he or she is full of it.
    A Faraday cage doesn't protect the things inside it from other things inside it. The airlines don't lobby for the FAA to increase regulation that inconveniences them or their customers and they charge exorbitant amounts of money for sandwiches to try and make up for the fact that their profit margins are negative for flights that don't sell all of their seats.

    I have built aircraft(not just parts of them)
    I have education in electronics and aeronautical engineering
    I have a father who was a pilot and started and ran an airline
    I have dealt with EMI as an audio tech. Weird things happen with low-quality transmitters.

    P.S. Please use your mod points to reduce the visibility of parent post. It is completely undeserving of the credibility(albeit small) that up-modding brings it.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost