F.A.A. Might Lighten its Policy on In-Flight Electronics Usage

According to Forrester Research, Americans will have purchased more than 40 million e-readers and 60 million tablets by the end of 2012. Despite this widespread adoption of consumer electronics in the United States, gadget aficionados remain prohibited from using their portable devices on U.S. flights during takeoff, taxi, and landing based on Federal Aviation Administration policy. The F.A.A. bases its ruling on the belief that certain electronics can have interface with the flight and result in a safety hazard. But, as reported by Nick Bilton for the New York Times, those rules might change… 

Bilton claims that the F.A.A. will begin testing e-readers, tablets, and a number of other gadgets on planes, since aviation companies have failed to perform the testing necessary for the approval of such devices during flights. It is understandable why airlines have failed to perform these tests, however, as the whole process is very expensive and labor-intensive.

“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.”

Although the F.A.A. is no longer ignoring the usage of electronics on planes, any changes that are made will likely take a long time due to a very tedious process that involves testing every single model of a particular device on seperate planes. For instance, the original iPad, iPad 2, and new iPad would have to be tested individually on three seperate flights in order for them to be considered for approval.

Airlines simply don’t have the time or available aircraft to perform these tests, but airlines could band together and designate one or two aircraft for these tests on an alternating basis. On top of that, the money to support this project could come from the wealthy smartphone and tablet makers such as Apple, Samsung, Google, and HTC. The electronics companies that fail to contribute simply won’t have the benefit of having F.A.A. approval of their devices for in-flight usage.

[New York Times / Bits]

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