The Federal Aviation Administration’s restriction on electronic devices — even those that don’t have internal radios or are in Airplane Mode — during takeoff (including sitting on the runway for hours) and landing has always seemed unnecessarily cautious, and Nick Bilton of the New York Times has explored that in the past. But his latest blog post makes the restriction seem even more ridiculous, since the FAA is now allowing American Airlines pilots to use iPads in the cockpit at all times. The only defense given is that it might be different if everyone was using a device during takeoff or landing, but that seems eminently testable. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if flying could become more convenient for a change? follow link
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Pilots Can Use iPads During Takeoff and Landing, but You Can’t
Avionics are probably designed to be robust against the normal interference expected from such devices. But do you want to be on that rare flight when some nimrod starts up his modded laptop and causes the plane's navigation or flight control systems to misplace a few bits? Most airlines are currently restricting the usage of gizmos only during take-off and landing, when the aircraft is most vulnerable.
If there were a problem to occur, we would have seen thousands of incidents by now because every flight is an accidental test flight.
The FAA and a separate industry/governmental group have spent years performing tests with personal electronics, and have been unable to replicate any of the handful of crew-reported anecdotes that are logged.
If airlines actually thought electronics were a threat, a flight attendant would be checking every person's to make sure they were powered off, not just asleep.
Modern laptop transmit Wi-Fi signals while they are "sleeping" but not powered off. And so on. It's just clear that between testing and actual practice, no effect can be correlated with the use of electronic devices.
The one legitimate concern I heard when writing an article about this in 2005 was from the British civil aviation authority, which had legitimate issues about the oldest planes in use, as they have the least RF hardening. But they hadn't carried out tests at that point, and I have heard of none since, that revealed problems.
As recent unfortunate accidents show, relatively minor issues coupled with a confused pilot can bring an airplane down. I think most people imagine a highly automated sophisticated cockpit. But that is only true of the newer planes into big airports. That turbo-prop or older jet flying into regional airport might be a pilot hand flying a ILS approach to minimums on analog gauges, trying to thread a corridor just 5 degrees wide and 1.4 degrees high while going 150 knots and descending at a rate of 800 feet a minute. You don't want that guy distracted.
The rules are there to avoid that rare combination of bad weather, bad equipment, bad pilot, bad airport and bad luck. It's probably a 1 in a 100 year event, and will probably never affect most of us. But are you willing to bet your life on it, for 10 minutes of convenience?
Further, it ignores the fact that this is already going on. Cell phones are left on—on every single flight.
Thus, if the risk is already present, if it were a true concern, airlines and the FAA would be screening every phone, laptop, etc.
They are not. Thus, the fact that this gear is all turned on in bags and so forth, means that it's not a problem.
Frankly, we know that thousands or even tens of thousands of cell phones are left on (put to sleep, but not turned off or set to airplane mode) in planes every day. So if it's a problem that was horrible, cell phones would be either confiscated by flight attendants and locked in a metal box before a flight or not allowed on altogether.
It's to avoid passengers listening to music when they're supposed to be able to hear the flight attendants shouting "Brace for impact", and to minimise the number of objects flying about the cabin in the event of an accident or, for example, sudden loss of altitude. That's also why baggage has to be stowed and tray tables clipped up.
It's a safety rule, not for revenue protection or convenience.
My primary complaint is that the FAA, FCC, and airlines are simply avoiding the truth. They are lying about the actual issues, instead of clearly stating why the ban remains in effect.
"Before getting to cell phones, passengers should know that the restrictions pertaining to computers, iPods, and certain other devices have nothing to do with electronic interference at all. In theory, a poorly shielded notebook computer can emit harmful energy, but the main reasons laptops need to be put away for takeoff and landing is to prevent them from becoming high-speed projectiles in the event of an impact or sudden deceleration, and to help keep the passageways clear during an evacuation. Your computer is a piece of luggage, and luggage needs to be stowed so it doesn’t kill somebody or get in the way.
In the case of iPods and the like, it’s about the headphones. During takeoffs and landings, you need to be able to hear and follow instructions if there’s an emergency. That’s hard to do if you’ve got your MP3 player cranked to 11."
That's what The Pilot says.