Quote of the Day

“During the cold war, West Berlin was an ‘exclave’ – a tiny outpost of liberalism surrounded by people who want to crush it. It was like Austin, Texas.” –Craig Ferguson during Barack Obama’s trip to West Berlin

FAA Might Let Us Use Electronic Devices During Take Off And Landing

I’m glad to see that the FAA is looking at relaxing the rules on electronic devices during plane flights:

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.

There are many, many things I don’t like about airline travel. This won’t do anything about most, but at least two problems might be eliminated. While I normally use an ebook reader for traveling, I have to carry one physical book for the ascending and descending legs of flights. (From where I live, it almost always takes two flights to get anywhere, so this time can really add up). Secondly, on occasions I’ve started watching a movie or a run of TV shows on a tablet and have to turn it off with a few minutes to go.

If any of this really placed a plane at risk, obviously I could do without ebook readers and tablets. However, as pilots often use an iPad during flight, it is doubtful anyone really thinks this would be an issue. Surveys have also found that almost one third of fliers admit to failing to turn off their gadgets. I’ve found that on rare occasions I’ve put a gadget away, inadvertently forgetting to power down. So far, no signs that it has done any harm.

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