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FAA Pushed To Review Ban On Electronics

samzenpus posted 1 year,28 days | from the taking-a-second-look dept.

Government 369

First time accepted submitter sfm writes "Ever tangle with a grumpy flight attendant over turning off your Kindle Fire before takeoff? This may change if the FAA reviews their policy for these devices. The FAA is under extreme pressure to either change the rules or give a good reason to keep them in place. From the article: 'According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.'"

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Avionics (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271089)

As someone who works with Comm/Nav systems for aircraft, let me be the firs to say:

Good. Nothing you have in your possession is going to adversely effect any of the systems used for take off and landing. These rules are stupid and were based on the fear of the unknown instead of actual studies and evidence.

Re:Avionics (4, Interesting)

alen (225700) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271127)

you must not understand how the media works

if a high profile crash takes place, the media hounds start looking for blame. anyone who works for the government knows to COVER YOUR ASS all the time otherwise the media hounds will call for your head on the slimmest bit of evidence

like when hurricane katrina hit and the idiot reporters were blaming bush based on a fictional book of a hurricane hitting the area. not that i liked bush, but...

Re:Avionics (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271159)

The thing you mention about the book is obvious B.S., but I can't see how you can not give some of the blame for that clusterfuck of a response to the Bush administration. It's a textbook case of giving an important job to an idiot crony.

Staten Island (2, Interesting)

Picass0 (147474) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271285)

I'm sure the good people of New York will tell you Obama learned from Bush's mistakes and was careful to have a more coordinated response when a major hurricane happened on his watch. The people of Staten Island were well cared for in a timely manner in spite of the pressures of election day politics.

Oh, wait...


Re:Staten Island (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271437)

NYC is getting billions of federal money to pay for subway repair and other projects
FEMA was out there
Insurance companies were out there
what else was Oblama supposed to do? there are only so many contractors out there. i live outside the flood zone and a wine and cheese shop that was supposed to open months ago cannot because all the contractors are busy with hurricane clean up

if you have flood insurance then your insurance company cuts you a check. if not you go to FEMA and ask for a loan to rebuild your home. this is not the first time NYC suffered flooding like this and FEMA had flood maps available. some people chose NOT TO BUY FLOOD INSURANCE

Re:Staten Island (-1, Offtopic)

krakelohm (830589) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271569)

Who brought up Obama? Nobody so stop the stupid political 'your guy is just as bad as my guy' BS.

Re:Avionics (1)

X0563511 (793323) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271791)

You mean the same media responsible for this [slashdot.org]?

I just don't understand why we take these fools seriously anymore.

Re:Avionics (2)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271813)

But, Bush was responsible for appointing somebody that was completely inept to FEMA and failing to make any preparations before landfall. This isn't like an earthquake which strikes without any warning, we have various meteorologists and weather stations that track these sorts of things. The whole situation at the Superdome was completely unacceptable.

As was the days of supply shortages, FEMA should have been preparing for that in a much more thorough way before the hurricane struck.

Re:Avionics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271981)

You forgot Anderson Cooper's favorite misstep.. the Federal Gov't PAID $200,000 TO MELT ICE THAT COULDN'T BE DISTRIBUTED.

They PAID..........to............MELT..............ICE

Re:Avionics (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271277)

Normally no consumer system should have any effect on aviation electronics. I always thought even the FAA understood this, and the worry is over electronics that may not be functioning correctly. An extreme example, is that about once a year you can find a story about rescue teams being mobilized because they see an emergency radio beacon signal, only to find out it is a malfunctioning TV or other device (well, appears functional to the user, but something is out of spec with the circuit and EMC goes to heck). While 99.999% of a particular product may be fine, there is concern that someone with one of the exceptionally bad or out of spec devices ends up on a plane. While the chances are rare and unlikely, it becomes a question of what is value of those couple minutes of electronics use during take off, and is people forgoing the electronics use for a few minutes a bigger cost than such a risk. And testing for it would not just be a matter of seeing the a plane works fine with a pile of electronics running in it, but trying to estimate how bad handheld electronics could be.

Re:Avionics (1)

BMOC (2478408) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271381)

If that's the fear, then all consumer electronics should be banned from flying, just like guns. The random malfunction of consumer electronics potentially interacting with the comm/nav systems on a commercial jetliner has to be 5-10 orders of magnitude more rare than someone building a portable high-power RF white noise source and leaving it on during takeoff.

Re:Avionics (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271361)

These rules are stupid and were based on the fear of the unknown instead of actual studies and evidence.

I have my concerns about cellphones... Not because they'll crash the plane; but because listening to 60 people babble loudly and relentlessly will make me wish that the would...

Anything silent, no problem; but if air travel features the TSA, little kids kicking the back of your seat, and cellphone chatter, it isn't going to be pretty.

Re:Avionics (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271901)

Have you ever tried to use your cellphone on a plane? Out of curiosity, I did. (Spoiler: the plane did not explode, I did not die.) Reception was lost soon after we got very high in the air. I think I tried it again in mid-flight, but still no signal. This was one phone, not a comprehensive test, but I'd guess that the plane is moving too fast and is too high for most cell phones to get and maintain much of a connection. Plus, the dull roar of the engines in most planes drowns out most conversational tones, the reason children wailing is annoying is because you can hear them over the engines.


Fucking text it morons. If not for politeness to the rest of us in earshot who are already impatient to get out of the plane, for efficiency. You can't hear them and they can't hear you, reading is much faster. Well, maybe not for idiots who can't wait until they get off the plane to announce multiple times that they've just landed and need to get their bags and can you pick them up...

Re:Avionics (2)

cjjjer (530715) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271401)

So says the AC...

So Says Common Sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271843)

If there were ANY chance that a cellphone or other electronic device could seriously affect the plane or its navigation, do you really think that they would be allowed onboard at all? Suppose the device malfunctions? Suppose someone forgets to turn it off(this happens ALL the time.)? Suppose some "terrorist" decides to use a cellphone to affect the plane?

If a cell phone provided ANY danger at all, would they allow 100-150 of them onboard every flight?

Common sense says electronics don't affect planes. Anecdotal assumptions from clueless pilots, passengers and regulators aside.

Re:Avionics (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271691)

I'd love to find a ***real*** analysis of consumer electronics including cellphone use on commercial aircraft. A study done by FAA, FCC, and NASA to have objective report of interference and performance issues of avionics systems. Occasionally we get these third-hand stories of interference does happen/does not happen (sorry but forum posts are interesting but not something I will use for TSO). Or vague studies by a govt agency but subject to suspicion per "regulatory capture." A study done by a company or a university funded by a company is bankrupt, i.e. cellphone company does research saying EM has no longterm effects on human body (probably doesn't but a cellphone company will never fund research that will result in showing longterm damage from their product).

Re:Avionics (4, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271717)

Well you're (slightly) wrong.

I was flying with a friend - it was his first time flying a real approach in real weather (and at night too!) - who had forgot to turn his phone off. ATC cleared us to intercept the localizer, and just at that moment, all audio from the comm radio was completely obliterated by "B-B BIP B BIP B BIP B BIP B BIP BRRRRRRRR" (if you've ever owned a GSM phone you'll be depressingly familiar with the noise - it interferes with pretty much any audio equipment) as his wife phoned him.

Fortunately, I was still instrument current at the time and could continue to fly the approach while he desperately fished in his clothing to find his phone (which is surprisingly complicated in the tight confines of a Grumman AA5A at night) to shut the damned thing off.

Of course, the loc/glideslope receivers were not affected (they continued to work absolutely normally) but if ATC had tried to say anything to us while the phone was ringing, we wouldn't have heard it. We could barely hear each other over the intercom with this racket going on in our headsets. The issue here isn't really the interference with the electronics, but rather the distraction it causes, and it's not optimal to be distracted while on an instrument approach.

Re:Avionics (1)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271769)

This is ignorant hogwash. The reason why those devices are banned during take off and landing is because most crashes happen at those points in the flight. Sure, some do crash midway through, but those are rare. Electronic devices are a distraction and something that can become a projectile.

The real question is why they permit people to have other things out and open during those periods of flight.

Re:Avionics (3, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271835)

These rules are stupid and were based on the fear of the unknown instead of actual studies and evidence.

The "unknown" is precisely what the rules are in place for. You can't expect cabin attendants to know every possible electronic gadget, what it can do and what might be connected to it via that wire leading to your pocket. The only sensible policy in this situation is to switch off all electronic items during critical phases of the flight. Either that or confiscate all electronic items at the boarding gate.

Re:Avionics (5, Interesting)

cwebster (100824) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271963)

As someone who works in front of the door that says "Authorized Personnel Only" on airplanes, let me throw my 2 cents in.

The only interference I've personally experienced is that infamous noise TDMA and GSM phones make when transmitting data. I could hear the interference anytime myself, my copilot, the flight attendant or anyone in the first 3 rows of the airplane left a phone on and I had the crew audio selected on my audio panel. No effect on the com or nav radios.

The real reason for the ban on portable electronic devices (the cell phone ban dates back to an FCC reg on the adverse effect of having an old-school cell phone at altitude where it could see many towers) is not to protect against interference, it is to protect lives in case of evacuation. If a plane is going to have a survivable accident it is very likely this will occur as a botched takeoff or botched landing, and in these cases you have on the order of a hundred of seconds to get out of the plane before you cook in the fire or succumb to the smoke. Personally I think that people can close a laptop and get up and out of a plane, but past accidents suggest that people will instead close that laptop, attempt to retrieve its case/bag, put it away and perhaps get other bags out of the overhead before evacuating a burning airplane (see the air france overrun in canada a few years back). This is more of a problem with peoples mindset when it comes to protecting property when faced with certain loss, but I think that needs to be addressed before we lift the ban on portable electronics below 10k' .

Not the technology (2, Insightful)

GerryHattrick (1037764) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271091)

Takeoff and landing, you're supposed to concentrate on safety instructions which (very rarely) you might need to think about right soon and seriously. Just... put down the gadget for a moment, and join the real and dangerous world of the paid staff.

Re:Not the technology (3, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271173)

You are never going to get people to pay attention to those instructions. That's human nature.

Re:Not the technology (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271383)

You are never going to get people to pay attention to those instructions. That's human nature.

"Hi kids! I'm Fuzzy, the natural selection wolf! Obey my instructions and you just might make it out alive!"

Re:Not the technology (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271181)


Why the fuck should I waste 30 minutes of my time listening to shit I've heard a billion times over?

In a panic no-one will fucking remember that anyway

Just shut the fuck up and let people have their personal freedom ffs

Re:Not the technology (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271373)

Having experienced a runway overshoot, the issue is that things tend to go flying around the cabin in a really nasty way, I don't want my teeth knocked out by the tablet that was previously sitting in the lap of the kid three rows in front of me. I don't want you to sit in the aisle seat in confusion because you missed the cabin crew's instructions while listening to your iPod at full volume. Stow your crap and clear your ears during the most dangerous part of the flight and make sure you know how many rows away the emergency exits are.

Re:Not the technology (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271507)

Having experienced a runway overshoot, the issue is that things tend to go flying around the cabin in a really nasty way, I don't want my teeth knocked out by the tablet that was previously sitting in the lap of the kid three rows in front of me.

But you'd presumably be quite happy to have them knocked out by a hardcover book?

Either make the rules apply to anything that could go flying around a cabin, or stop making me turn off my Kindle so I have to read a book that weighs five times as much instead.

Re:Not the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271673)

Moreover, if the concern is people getting hit them stuff needs to be stowed, not turned off. Right now, they make you turn it off but not stow it. I always am holding my iPad (even if it is off) and wearing my noise-cancelling headset (which is also off).

Re:Not the technology (1)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271849)

The flights I've been on, they would never let you wear head phones during that part of the flight as they would have no idea as to whether or not the device was in operation.

Also, while it's ideal to have all that stuff stowed, you're implication that it's completely pointless because they aren't doing it 100% is just plain ignorant.

Re:Not the technology (1)

X0563511 (793323) | 1 year,28 days | (#43272083)

I'd mod you if I had points.

I don't have problems with the rules themselves - I have problems with their lack of consistent thought.

Re:Not the technology (1)

Wookact (2804191) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271595)

Quit yer whining. That happens what 1 out of every 10,000 flights?

Anyways from what I could find it is an extremely rare occurrence, and you'd have a fair chance of being dead anyways in a "runway overshoot"/

Re:Not the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271755)

If that happens once out of every 10000 flights, that means it'll be happening about 100 times every day.

Re:Not the technology (1)

hedwards (940851) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271871)

Not true, most people in those situations survive. Especially if you had the sense to choose an appropriate location in the plane.

Re:Not the technology (1)

Alioth (221270) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271905)

Runway overshoots rarely result in fatalities. The probability of survival is generally inversely proportional to the angle of arrival, and in an overshoot generally the angle of arrival is nil, and you have to slide quite a while before you hit anything solid. While a few overshoots have resulted in fatalities, the vast majority result in everyone evacuating the aircraft.

Re:Not the technology (1)

MXPS (1091249) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271987)

So then why aren't books and other material not banned during these times? A large hardcover book will certain hurt just as much, if not more than my Kindle.

Re:Not the technology (1)

earlzdotnet (2788729) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271187)

Heh, the last string of flights I was on consisted of some hilarious safety presentations. I mean, to make the traditional boring instructions interesting to listen to is true comedic talent. "SMOKINNNNN'.... is not allowed. " "OXYGEN.... We got it. And if you so happen to need it we attendants will wish we would have called in sick"

Re:Not the technology (4, Insightful)

Aqualung812 (959532) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271253)

Real and dangerous?

Do you know how rare those situations really are?

Even if a situation comes up, most of the time, it is going to be along the lines of "Wait for the plane to crash & die or land safely". Someone strapped in a seat can do almost nothing to help.

If anything, I'd rather the passengers be oblivious to their potential doom with their earphones in rather than screaming bloody murder while the pilot attempts an emergency procedure.

Re:Not the technology (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271461)

Those oxygen mask things might have a nice muffling effect... Plus, depending on the gas mix, you might be able to kick the hyperventilating passengers into blissed-out euphoria, rather than dizziness and further panic.

Re:Not the technology (1)

GerryHattrick (1037764) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271523)

AF447, they probably never knew (mostly 1g, apart from the bumpy bits and the swaying they'd been warned about). But takeoff and landing? You really might need your wits about you, if only to help others. Flying is still not magic.

Re:Not the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271541)

And even in the case of the rarity of a landing that requires detailed knowledge of exit procedures (e.g. smokey fire). Regardless if they paid attention to the debriefing or not. people are going to be crawling over each other towards whatever damn exit they like.

Re:Not the technology (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271269)

Takeoff and landing, you're supposed to concentrate on safety instructions which (very rarely) you might need to think about right soon and seriously. Just... put down the gadget for a moment, and join the real and dangerous world of the paid staff.

I fly a fair bit. Not enough that I have enough frequent flier miles with any one airline to go anyplace good, but enough that I can tell you the aircraft I am flying on as soon as I step through the door (without looking at my ticket or the safety pamphlet in in the seatback). I've seen safety presentations from a number of different airlines on each plane that I have flown on over a number of years. I can tell you that if a Delta flight attendant accidentally stepped on to a United flight and gave the safety briefing nobody would know the difference (other than the slightly different uniforms).

In fact, I've been on the planes enough that I could give the safety talk myself (and I can tell you for several airlines which planes have automated talks that the attendants pantomime to and on which ones the attendants have to describe it verbally).

And I'm quite sure there are plenty of other passengers like me. We are the same ones who get through security with minimal fuss because we're prepared from that from experience as well. We know which planes our carryons will fit in the overhead bin in, and which ones we need to gate check it for. We have smartphones and we know what airplane mode is. We know how to make sure that our phones are really, truly, disconnected; why can't we check out calendars while the attendant is giving the same safety talk we've seen dozens - if not hundreds - of times? I'm not asking permission to play rugby in the aisle while they're talking, or even to use the bathroom during that sacred minute-and-a-half. I won't be distracting other passengers because I also know how to do such things silently and discretely.

The restrictions seem to be in place just to amuse the airline companies as this point. They certainly don't amuse me...

Re:Not the technology (3, Insightful)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271833)

that sacred minute-and-a-half

Jesus, that's a self-absorbed, egocentric post. You really can't delay checking your calendar while someone is talking to you for 90ish seconds? I'm pretty sure you can squeeze out that time from your busy schedule of sitting in one place for a couple of hours. The more people like you who can't be bothered to at least be polite enough to appear to pay attention, the more people who need to hear this will feel validated when they busy themselves checking their calendars.

That's awesome that you know so much about flying. That means that you'll know what to do when a yellow cup appears 2 inches from your face, you won't freak out when the bag doesn't appear to inflate, and you might even know whether to look for an inflatable vest under your seat or that your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device simply because you know on which plane you're flying.


Not everyone is as awesome as you, but a lot people think they're that awesome and they are the ones who need to pay attention for 90 fucking seconds of their oh so important and busy lives.

Re:Not the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271317)

Then ban in flight magazines and books if it critical to listen to the flight attendant instructions.

Re:Not the technology (1)

thoth (7907) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271385)

Maybe the briefing was useful back in the early days of commercial aviation, but not anymore. Most people these days have flown so many times they already know about the flotation seat cushion and oxygen air masks.

Besides, if it were that critical, people with books and magazines would be forced to put them away and listen to the safety instructions. They'd also wake people up who were already napping. Do you see that happening?

Re:Not the technology (1)

xorsyst (1279232) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271451)

Most people these days have flown so many times they already know about the flotation seat cushion and oxygen air masks.

Perhaps in the US, but not so much in Europe.

Re:Not the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271699)

Here is a crash course for you then.

The seat cushions? They float.
If an oxygen mask drops, put it on.
Optional: Help your neighbor put theirs on.
Exit the plane. The nearest exit is either in front of you, or behind you. In fact I guarantee the exit is both in front and behind. Pick a direction and exit the plane. Safe Bet: Follow the flow of traffic..

Re:Not the technology (1)

cfulton (543949) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271397)

Still the above is the only cogent reason I have ever heard for the rule. It is pretty clear that my phone or laptop is not going to crash the plane. But, it makes some sense that I need to pay attention at take off and landing in case the plane does crash for some other reason.

Re:Not the technology (1)

qwe4rty (2599703) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271423)

Problem is, there is absolutely no consistency. I can read a hard/paper back book but I can't read on my Kindle? How often do I need to hear about buckling my seat belt or putting on an oxygen mask in the event we lose cabin pressure? The only portion of the safety spiel I find important is the flight attendants making sure the people in the exit row are physically capable

Re:Not the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271491)

I have no problem with them asking you to put down your device for the 5 minutes they're talking. It makes total sense.

Making you have the devices off for the ~30 minutes from "boarding door closed" to "above 10,000 feet" is a different animal.

Also, what's special about a Kindle and not a paper book, which is absolutely fine to be distracted by during the very same interval?

Safety at 150 miles per hour? (1)

BMOC (2478408) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271503)

Those instructions are worthless in all but the rarest of circumstances. I guarantee you your lap-belt + crash position or flotation device isn't going to save you when the ground is coming up and your ground speed is in excess of formula-1 racers. At that point it's just random chance that saves you. The Hudson river "landing" was remarkable simply because its one of the most rare forms of plane crash, the controlled crash where everyone managed to survive. Besides which, once you've flown 10-20 times, those instructions are obvious and easy to remember.

Re:Safety at 150 miles per hour? (1)

Alioth (221270) | 1 year,28 days | (#43272069)

The actual experience is somewhat different to what you assume. In cases where the aircraft has arrived on the ground in a controlled manner, then usually pretty much everyone survives. The brace position will stop you from needlessly headbutting the seat in front, potentially meaning the difference between a nasty head injury and just bruises.

It's not the speed of arrival that's important, it's the deceleration. If the crew put the aircraft somewhere reasonably flat in a level attitude, and the aircraft has time to decelerate instead of coming to a sudden halt, the outcome is usually pretty good for the people on board. I'd wager that most plane crashes are like this, and the types of crashes where everyone dies are the rarer ones. If you have a look around airliners.net or the NTSB website, you'll see there's an awful lot of these kinds of incidents where no one gets killed (the majority being runway over/undershoots)

Tell me you do not know them already (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271555)

Takeoff and landing, you're supposed to concentrate on safety instructions

So after I have done that ONCE, why do I ever need to do that again?

Look for exits, floatation device under seat, oxygen masks from overhead. Why do I need to "pay attention" if I know all that already? As long as I have carefully noted where my nearest emergency exit is (which I did before I sat down thanks) what possible value can I gain by listening to what I know?

It's not like you could not easily do just about anything while half-listening for any possible deviation, but that's just how planes are.

Furthermore, the actual safety briefing takes a few minutes at most. So why should I continue to "put down that device" during the whole takeoff and landing process? Especially when all I want to do is read an ebook.

Re:Not the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271577)

That's funny. How much attention do you think people need to pay to understand that if the plane is on fire you should run out the exits, if you crash in water your SOL?

After 100s of flights... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271803)

I'm not really paying attention anyhow, and I probably know what they're going to say.

Exception: I do double-check the safety card if I'm in an exit row, just in case, but I can do that without the attendant standing there showing me for the 150th time how to buckle my seatbelt.

Re:Not the technology (1)

kwerle (39371) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271831)

The announcement goes "turn off all phones, tablets, computers, or anything with an off switch."

It does not go "stop doing anything but pay attention." No mention of not sleeping. No mention of not reading a book/newspaper. No mention of putting down the crossword.

This is all about electronics interfering with equipment. And it's bogus and should go away.

Re:Not the technology (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271989)

So that explains the 5 minutes they tell you how to use a seatbelt... what about the other 20 minutes or so in takeoff and landing?

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271099)

Considering the pilots are cleared for using iPads in the cockpit, I'd say the whole thing is bullshit.

Re:Well (2)

alen (225700) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271139)

yeah, because the pilots are using their ipads right at the moment of take off

Re:Well (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271165)

yeah, because the pilots are using their ipads right at the moment of take off

They may not be but they also are not turning them off for takeoff or landing.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271729)

It's getting more and more common that they are. The FAA has cleared iPad use for navigation in all portions of flight, and having the departure procedures handy is very important.

Re:Well (1)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271979)

Do they have the iPad radio transmitters enabled in the cockpit? Thought not.

There's a difference between a trained pilot with a properly configured device and a brat trying to get on Facebook during takeoff.

The cellphone ban is overreaching, too (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271137)

Every flight I've been on recently has had an announcement of

you must turn OFF your cell phone until we reach cruising altitude, airplane mode is not ok

Which is rather stupid. Most people who know how to put their phones in airplane mode have seen the safety instructions enough times that they could give them for the staff, why not let them keep their cell phones on provided they aren't engaged in communication with them?

Re:The cellphone ban is overreaching, too (2)

netwarerip (2221204) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271483)

Seriously, if there was even an incremental risk that a powered on or active cellphone could cause a problem during a flight then they would not allow you to take them on the plane. They certainly wouldn't blindly trust people to follow the request given to turn the things off. That is just plain common sense. There is no risk at all, its simple bullshit, probably falling into the 'security theater' category.
I seem to recall John Dvorak writing an article maybe 10 or so years ago in which he theorized that the reason behind the ban was strictly accounting related. Something to do with the fact that someone on a call would switch towers too fast for calls to be tracked properly, and thusly billed properly. That makes a hell of a lot more sense to me.

Re:The cellphone ban is overreaching, too (4, Interesting)

jittles (1613415) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271499)

One time I was flying on American and I was in the very last row of the plane (booked last minute). The flight attendant came up to me and asked me if she could put an unaccompanied minor next to me during the flight. She asked if I could just keep an eye out for him, and make sure he didn't disappear on the flight. I said it was no problem. When they closed the cabin doors and asked people to turn their devices off, he neglected to do so. He was still texting who knows who when the flight attendant made it back to us for the safety check. She gave me the worst tongue lashing ever because I didn't make the kid put his cell phone away. I am not his father, I am not there to tell the kid what to do. She can do that. Why she thought it was up to me to make sure the kid followed the rules is beyond me. She threatened to kick me off the flight for that. It was ridiculous. I'm not a big fan of the cell phone ban either.

Re:The cellphone ban is overreaching, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271621)

I admit to possibly talking out of my *ss on this, but I had thought the cell phone ban was put in place after TWA flight 900 mysteriously exploded (it was the one over Long Island that conspiracy theorists insist was hit by a missile).

My dim recollection was that one theory they considered for "why did it explode?" was that there was a spark in the fuel tank induced by the electromagnetic radiation created by cellphones. They did studies on whether that was possible, and determined it was theoretically possible. However, the amount of radiation actually needed to induce a spark was ~100 times more powerful than a planeful of cellphones would produce. The FAA looked at that and said "2 orders of magnitude is too close for comfort, so we'll ban cellphone use in-flight."

More coddling of the addicts (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271147)

Ever tangle with a grumpy flight attendant over turning off your Kindle Fire before takeoff?

No. No, I haven't, but that might be because I'm not so hopelessly addicted to stupid gadgets that I go into withdrawal if I have to turn the damn thing off for the fifteen or so minutes it takes to get the plane in the air.

Re:More coddling of the addicts (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271329)

The level of technology addiction here is just pathetic.

Re:More coddling of the addicts (1, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271357)

But you are apparently happy to have them waste those 15 minutes of your life for no actual reason. It's not about withdrawal, it's about letting idiots control your life.

Re:More coddling of the addicts (1)

splutty (43475) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271403)

You do realize we're talking about a book here, right? (Or at least, that's what it's generally used for), and actually reading a dead-tree book isn't an issue?

Right. Glad to get that out of the way. But don't let me stop your diatribe about gadgets.

I thought the cell phone ban was for batteries? (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271239)

I accidentally left mine on one flight and it was drained afterwards.

Re:I thought the cell phone ban was for batteries? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271355)

The main reason is not that it presents a danger for navigation equipment, but that it could play havoc with the cell towers, (when you are low enough, around t/o and landing). Imagine the towers around an airport with dozens of planes, each with potentially hundreds of cellphones, zipping past, demanding handshake, then nearly-instantaneously demanding hardover to next tower...

Yeah, it also kills your battery as the phone keeps trying to find a tower during your transoceanic trip.

Personally, I like the ban, since the idea of having people inches away from me, on each side, and behind and in front, all shouting away on a cell would drive me nuts. It's bad enough as it is now...

Re:I thought the cell phone ban was for batteries? (1)

djrobxx (1095215) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271851)

Personally, I like the ban, since the idea of having people inches away from me, on each side, and behind and in front, all shouting away on a cell would drive me nuts. It's bad enough as it is now...

People can already use their cell phones in the plane, on the ground until the cabin doors closes. And, you're already legally allowed to use them when taxiing back to the gate after touchdown.

I'm not sure why so many people are trying to make this issue about something it's not. People wanting to be able to read a book on their kindle has nothing to do with annoying people yacking on a cell phone. If you leave the requirement to switch to "airplane mode", it will still stop cell phone chatter, but allow book reading. And anyone who uses the argument about it "only being fifteen minutes", clearly doesn't fly often enough to understand this issue.

Re:I thought the cell phone ban was for batteries? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271439)

I accidentally left mine on one flight and it was drained afterwards.

This is obviously handset/chipset dependent; but many cellphones will adjust their RF power use depending on signal strength. No point in shouting if the tower is nearby, you do what you have to(within technical and FCC limits) if you are at the edge of range. At cruising altitude, your phone probably spent hours screaming desperately into an uncaring void for an answer that would never come...

Cabin Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271251)

Inflight its all good, wifi, bluetooth, etc etc people are doing it anyways. At that point the aircraft is stablized and AP active. Take off and landings are critical moments when almost all incedents occur. Having everything stored for take off and landing is simply preparing for that increased chance of equipment failure due to the stresses off take off or crew error on approach with AP Off.

Headphones (3, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271257)

I have a set of Bose noise canceling headphones. These things are great for filtering out cabin noise. In addition, they make the entertainment system and the PA system much easier to hear over the screaming of nearby children.

However, I am required to turn them off during takeoff and landing. Not take them off, but turn their power off. They have a little green LED which gives away their powered status*. So now, I can't hear the PA system and safety instructions. How about allowing the use of these as long as they are plugged into the cabin entertainment system during takeoff and landing?

*I suppose I could just put a piece of electrical tape over the LED.

Re:Headphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271325)

What model number do you have? I have the QuietComfort 15 model and wasn't aware it would through in the PA system audio.

That has been a concern of mine when I used them. I kept the volume low enough to hear some of the ambient noise just so I could hear the PA if there was a warning or some sort of emergency.

Re:Headphones (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271519)

I have the QuietComfort 15 model and wasn't aware it would through in the PA system audio.

Same model. You just plug them into the passenger entertainment headphone jack. All PA announcements are broadcast over this system and preempt the entertainment audio.

Re:Headphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271459)

*I suppose I could just put a piece of electrical tape over the LED.

If there is a good surface for it you should add an extra switch for the LED. This will give you a switch to make it appear as if you turned them off.

Witchcraft and Supersition (4, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271309)

Our government is required to provide logical, reality-based legislation. Not legislation and mandates built on superstition, witchcraft and rumor. It maybe fine for a short time to prohibit certain things out of an abundance of caution until an answer can be found but now we've had more than enough time, and we have no scientific evidence of any interplay between avionics and solid state mobile devices. All the evidence is anecdotal in nature. This is not sufficient for limiting the freedoms of people.

Re:Witchcraft and Supersition (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271533)

Our government is required to provide logical, reality-based legislation.

Is this an actual requirement written down somewhere, or one that you just made up?

Democracy includes irrational people. Do you really think they should be denied any representation or influence? Who decides who's rational "enough" for you?

Re:Witchcraft and Supersition (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271719)

Democracy includes irrational people. Do you really think they should be denied any representation or influence? Who decides who's rational "enough" for you?

This has nothing to do with Democracy or our Republic. The rules were made by stupid bureaucrats who lack any accountability and certainly aren't elected. It's surprising that a senator has to go to much effort to get something like this changed.

Re:Witchcraft and Supersition (1)

scorp1us (235526) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271731)

It is not written, but it is heavily implied. It is enforced in the courts, where their charter of handing out more or less "equitable" judgments takes place. Generally the scientific data (theory, test, examination, wash rinse repeat) trumps unsubstantiated claims because courts are evidence based and science is all about evidence.

Meanwhile, claimant of "She turned me into a newt! ... I got better" would need to provide evidence. Of course there would be no evince of such claim being true. It is the mere lack of evidence favoring irrational decisions that produces the scientific bias.

In my experience (-1, Troll)

argStyopa (232550) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271339)

...it's rarely started by 'grumpy flight attendant'. The rules are the rules, and obviously the flight attendant isn't making them,. (I don't object to people being sticklers for safety - even if the rules are dubious.)

No, more frequently it's 'asshole passenger who doesn't think the rule needs to apply to him' that *makes* the flight attendant 'grumpy'.

Personally, I wish they were far MORE draconian: "Sir, turn off the phone in the next 10 seconds or we kick you off the plane, period, no appeals, no refund."

Re:In my experience (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271559)

I like your new plan. I'll take all the crying kids you can put on an airplane if I can see a way too cocky guy having a cell phone conversation (probably via a bluetooth headset) get booted off a plane. Look we all understand you've been snapping necks and cashing checks after selling the Catalina Wine Mixer but we'll be where we are going in a couple hours. You can get with your brahs then.

Training Standards & Loose Items in the Cabin (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271353)

With the rate airlines are mutilating training standards of pilots and with ICAO pressuring standardisation of training throughout the world, risks are going to increase, as new pilots have insufficient training (and hours) to deal with unusual conditions that may occur during landing and takeoff.

I have personally seen the effect of loose items in the cabin during in-flight incidents. When you hear the media talk about "minor injuries" that occur during these incidents, a large majority of them are caused by loose items in the cabin. I've even seen the deadly effects that loose items can have in the cockpit during high-G manoeuvres in both military and civilian aerobatic aircraft, these objects can be dangerous at velocity.

Whilst the original purpose of these regulatory requirements has become obsolete due to an improved understanding of the actual risks involved regarding RF and other electrical interference, the proliferation of the small and solid devices has risen dramatically. They should alter the policy to be more generic and more aligned with the current reasoning for having it. Items which can become a hazard should be stowed away during landing or takeoff, it should be that simple.

I operate in the aviation industry which specialises in training and aviation safety at both implementation and regulatory levels.

So gleefully ignorant (1)

SoTerrified (660807) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271391)

I just flew last weekend. As we're sitting in line for the runway (taking a good 15-20 mins) I'm on my nexus 7. The stewardess runs up and says "No electronic devices!" I say "It's in airplane mode, so it's not transmitting or receiving". And she says "We didn't invent airplane mode. Who knows what it does. You have to shut it off." (Keep in mind this isn't a safety/stow items issue... Everyone around me is reading books unmolested) Really? "You didn't invent it"? "Who knows what it does?" Are you kidding me that you haven't taken 5 minutes to investigate what airplane mode means on well known electronics like nexus and iPad? You're that gleefully ignorant? I'll give credit to the stewards and say they're probably just saying what's been directed from the top, but still, it would just be smarter to say it's a directive from up top instead of trying to claim you can't trust airplane mode.

Re:So gleefully ignorant (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271575)


The flight attendant didn't make the rules, so why are giving him / her such a hard time?

Direct TV in flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271393)

Having just recently had the misfortune of having to fly united after several years I was treated to an obnoxious seatback display that could not be turned off until after you sat thru a a self aggrandising logistics video followed by several commercials.

Turning it off was then intentionally made difficult ~20 second affair of holding in the off button so most people would give up. Of course radio and ch9 are gone. There are now unecessary electronics blaring everywhere in the cabin during takeoff and landing including 110 AC power outlets under all the chairs ... yet we are reminded of the difference between airplane mode and off....and just to drive it home reminded to swipe our cards if you want to watch TV in the same announcement.

Every time I fly it sucks more and more.

Good (3, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271465)

These rules are overdue for repeal and have been for at least a decade. I used to travel full time as a consultant for years and I can assure that on every single flight there are devices routinely left on and used when they are not supposed to be.

The empirical evidence is plain as day by way of millions of flights every year with every possible phone, game console, tablet that you could imagine that have /not/ crashed. This rule was made out of excessive paranoia and needs to be set aside as the act of sheer absurdity that it is.

on the other hand (5, Funny)

nozzo (851371) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271485)

I was on a flight just coming in to land and the guy next to me answered his ringing phone - I almost grabbed it off him and stamped on it but as I'm British I would rather the plane went out of control and die in a fireball than to make a fuss. Other people tutted at him.
However nothing happened and here I am typing this today!

So, if you're keeping score: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271543)

Knives (the same ones used by terrorists on 9/11): Once again OK!

Reading an e-book instead of a paper book during takeoff: NOT OK!

Mythbusters. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271611)

I vaguely recall mythbusters doing a test to see if any of these devices actually caused any interference.

The FAA(I think it was?) wouldn't let them fly while doing it, but on the ground, they received absolutely none.

This is another example of old farts going "In my day, this is how we did it!" and not moving forward with time.

the sound of several hundred phones ringing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271627)

I don't want to have to listen to the Mexican Hat Dance or whatever ring tone you choose for your soon to be ex. I don't want to hear how awesome quinoa is. In those close quarters, I prefer that mobile phones are off. Some conversations are just too inane. I'd rather have screaming children.

what? (1)

letherial (1302031) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271765)

I just flew, and both the trip there and back i didnt turn off my phone or my tablet. I can only assume im not the only one, planes are not falling out of the sky yet they need a year to study this.

stupid stupid stupid goverment

Keep em Banned (1)

Kookus (653170) | 1 year,28 days | (#43271783)

Really? Why are we arguing over something so trivial as turning off a device for 15 minutes until you're in the air? We need instant gratification 100% of the time? Deal with it.
I'd rather not even chance my safety over something as stupid as a cellphone or e-reader.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/may/22/thisweekssciencequestions [guardian.co.uk]

It's not about devices that are broadcasting under normal conditions, or intended conditions. It's about malfunctioning devices. The last thing we need on the news is a blackbox recording of the pilots trying to communicate with the tower about a situation in which another plane is approaching and to take immediate actions to avoid a collision only to be drowned out by static, squeals, or Samuel L Jackson giving his speech about Ezekiel 21 and a slew of gunshots.

I honestly don't give a rip about you trying to get a last "OMG! takeoffz!" text in.

There's no point (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#43271821)

If there were any chance that passenger devices of any kind could seriously impact the safety of the plane, then a simple suggestion not to use such devices is ludicrous. Such devices would have to be detected and confiscated before boarding the plane. We don't ask people not to set off the explosives they brought on the plane, we make sure that they don't bring them on the plane in the first place. The fact that people are allowed to bring cell phones on the plane prove that they are not dangerous. If they were, that would be a huge problem - we really do not want planes to fall out of the sky just because of a bit of radio interference. It's a good thing that they don't, so now let's get rid of this stupid restriction.

All or none...halfway makes no sense (1)

patmandu (247443) | 1 year,28 days | (#43272021)

At the root of this is the flight attendant: The proposal is to allow readers...but not cellphones. Is a Kindle HD a reader? How about an iPad mini...with cell data? What about a Raspberry Pi based homebuilt device? How do they tell? All this would do would be push the problem into the attendant's laps and require them to be expert in what devices are allowed and be able to identify them by sight. It's easier to just say 'it's all gotta be turned off' than it is to sort out what's allowed and what's not. All or nothing, but...the halfway stuff is unenforceable nonsense.

Personally, I think they should allow it all Thousands of flights happen every day with cellphones powered on and active just by forgetfulness alone. Some smaller percentage of flights also happen every day with deliberate usage of these devices.

Attention during Instructions (1)

realsilly (186931) | 1 year,28 days | (#43272041)

While it may be true that electronics pose no threat to the avionics, there is a good reason for turning off the items during take off and landing that has nothing to do with electronic interference. It's courtesy when listening to the flight attendants provide safety instructions and gate info. Most people barely listen to the flight attendants safety instructions, but they are repeated for every flight for a reason. In the event of an emergency, people who recent heard instructions or took the time to read them will be a little more prepared in an emergency. How many people can repeat what you need to do in an emergency (on a plane) right this moment? If you can, then you've listened/read and retained well. But I would guess most cannot.

From an airline's perspective, this attention to the flight attendance and repeating the emergency info on every flight is a CYA thing, but it is also the passenger's responsibility to know the risks of flying and understand what to do. Reading a book, listening to music, talking on the phone are all ways to tune out the world around you to make the flight a little more enjoyable.

If the most dangerous time on a flight is during takeoff and landing then this rule makes sense to me, even if I don't like it.

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