×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why the FAA May Finally Relax In-Flight Device Rules

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the sanity-a-good-last-ditch-option dept.

Transportation 278

Nick Bilton at the New York Times has been writing skeptically for years about the FAA's ban on even the most benign electronic devices during takeoff and landing on commercial passenger flights. He writes in the NYT's Bits column about the gradual transformation that may (real soon now) result in slightly more sensible rules; a committee established to review some of those in-flight rules has recommended the FAA ease up, at least on devices with no plausible negative effect on navigation. From the article: "The New York Times employed EMT Labs, an independent testing facility in Mountain View, Calif., to see if a Kindle actually gave off enough electromagnetic emissions to affect a plane. The findings: An Amazon Kindle emitted less than 30 microvolts per meter when in use. That is only 0.00003 of a volt. A Boeing 747 must withstand 200 volts per square meter. That is millions of Kindles packed into each square meter of the plane. Still, the F.A.A. said “No.” ... But then something started to change: society." Of course, the rules that committees recommend aren't always the ones that prevail on the ground or in the sky.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

278 comments

What about cowbells? (4, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 7 months ago | (#45053655)

WHEN WILL I BE ALLOWED TO HAVE A CONSENSUAL, PRIVATE RELATIONSHIP WITH A COWBELL ON THE AIRLINE OF MY PERSONAL CHOICE, AMERICA?

This is a matter of human rights that concerns all living and mineral beings, like you. even if you think i am yelling, you are wrong, i am only demonstrating the injustice of america and its war on cowbells.

Re:What about cowbells? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053689)

Personal choice my ass. Cowbells can't give consent you filthy deviant.

Re:What about cowbells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053863)

Personal choice my ass. Cowbells can't give consent you filthy deviant.

Mine can. :>)

Seems simple enough (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053669)

There is zero evidence, so the FAA should change the rules.

Oh wait, this is federal government bureaucracy here. They will discuss ad nauseam for several years, then decide it's not worth the political risk.

Like the reporter has a clue... (5, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 7 months ago | (#45054135)

"The findings: An Amazon Kindle emitted less than 30 microvolts per meter when in use. That is only 0.00003 of a volt. A Boeing 747 must withstand 200 volts per square meter. "

EMF fields are measured in V/m. He's got one side right, but the "200 volts per square meter," is nonsense. Additionally, the actual 200 V/m measure is from RTCA DO-160 Section 20 [wikipedia.org] , and refers to external fields, which are in large part shielded by an aircraft's metal skin. And, the criteria for success is not a lack of interference, but whether the aircraft will continue to operate after experiencing a brief event of that magnitude. Indeed, there is every expectation that normal communications will be lost when subject to that level of signal.

A better, and more honest, comparison for that 30 uV/m the Kindle put out would be to consider that a decent FM radio can get stereo reception with a signal of 2 uV/M. That's reasonable, as FM frequencies (88-108 MHz) have similar characteristics compared to those used for aircraft communications (108-137 MHz), which are immediately adjacent. RTCA DO-196 [rtca.org] assumes a radio sensitivity of 20 uV. So, a Kindle can compete in signal strength with those normally received by an aircraft communications receiver.

This issue is not what level of emissions from a device will cause damage, but whether they can interfere with aircraft operations. Just as the author conflates uV/m with uV/m^2, he's also ignorant of what's really important.

Having said that, it's unlikely that a Kindle (the example given) emits enough in the aircraft radio band to cause problems. I'd be more concerned with a bunch of cell phones, each with a GPS receiver built in, interfering with the aircraft's GPS based systems. GPS operates at even lower levels. But, I'd trust someone who actually understands the issues to make a real study to determine the risks, rather than take the word of an obviously biased ("writing skeptically for years") writer who gets even the basics wrong, after years of writing about the subject (or is being deliberately disingenuous).

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054405)

Please explain how a GPS receiver could interfere with anything.

Re: Like the reporter has a clue... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054539)

Look up "heterodyne ".

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (5, Informative)

thygate (1590197) | about 7 months ago | (#45054825)

In many radio reception techniques the signal is down-converted to a much lower frequency for easier processing. This is done through so called "heterodyning", which takes the carrier signal and mixes it with the signal from a Local Oscillator (LO) to create an Intermediate Frequency (IF). The IF and LO signals will radiate and need to be properly shielded.

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (5, Informative)

pepty (1976012) | about 7 months ago | (#45054425)

I always thought the issue wasn't properly functioning cell phones, kindles, walkmen, etc interfering with VOR or HF bands (the rules predate GPS on phones) ; the problem was electronic gadgets that generated lots of RF interference due to malfunction or due to being cheap imports that were never UL approved in the first place. Airlines could test everyone's electronics for interference during or right after boarding ... or just make everyone turn every damn thing off. I know which is simpler and faster.

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (5, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | about 7 months ago | (#45054465)

If a malfunctioning kindle can generate enough RF to possibly interfere with a plane, then a malicious attacker could *certainly* interfere with a plane. If a device running on a few watts of power can fuck up a plane this badly then I don't want to get on it.

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 7 months ago | (#45054681)

It's not a matter of taking a plane down. It's a matter of increasing the risk. Deliberately causing that much interference on a single flight is unlikely to cause a crash, so it's not a good strategy - it would get noticed. But lessor, unintentional interference, spread across millions of flights per year, may increase the risk so that one (or more) has a life threatening problem.

A 1:1000 chance isn't good enough for a bad guy, who risks being caught. But doubling the risk of flying so people can use doodads for 30 minutes more per flight isn't good for the public, either.

The burden of proof is to show, not that personal electronics cause problems, but to show that they don't. And that's across all of the ones encountered, not just the ones working to factory specifications.

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (2)

sl149q (1537343) | about 7 months ago | (#45055021)

More than a few good EE types work for Al Qaeda... IFF it was possible to easily modify these devices to cause jets to crash it would have happened by now.

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054673)

I literally yawned while reading this.

Be less boring next time.

Re:Like the reporter has a clue... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054713)

Maybe he should write at a first grade level next time, so you have something you can read without moving your mouth.

Re:Seems simple enough (1, Insightful)

murdocj (543661) | about 7 months ago | (#45054525)

There is zero need to use electronic devices during taking and landing, so the FAA should play it safe.

Re:Seems simple enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054993)

The most interesting pictures you can take are near the ground.

The problem is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053675)

That some passengers are asshats and stupid. And enforcing "relaxed rules" during takeoff are going to be hell.

Hope the committee has a better grasp of units (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053717)

Withstand 200V per square meter? If that's not just a typo, we are talking about a change in magnetic flow density. 30uV/m, in contrast, is an electric field strength. The electric field around any battery is much larger than that, but nobody wants to prohibit carrying batteries around. You don't get any magnetic flow from that, but you can get magnetic flow from a change in electric field change. In fact, depending on the frequency of the change, the change in magnetic flow density can get arbitrarily large even when we are talking about an amplitude of just 30uV/m.

Re:Hope the committee has a better grasp of units (0)

at10u8 (179705) | about 7 months ago | (#45053739)

Yes, my inner physicist is hurting badly that neither author nor editor seems to grasp the subject enough to notice the inconsistency.

Re:Hope the committee has a better grasp of units (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054091)

Withstand 200V per square meter? If that's not just a typo, we are talking about a change in magnetic flow density. 30uV/m, in contrast, is an electric field strength.

Actually, if we are indeed talking about magnetic flow, 200V per square meter means that if I loop off one square meter with a wire, that wire will show 200V when measured with a high-impendance instrument.

But that's just 200uV per square millimetre. Now a Kindle is nothing that I'd be afraid of using normal operation. But then it has WLAN which is intended to transmit radiation. But that's sort of low-profile. What's really scary is a Kindle 3G or a mobile phone. Those suckers are intended to broadcast over a distance of dozens of kilometres.

And since people are too stupid to recognize the implications of 3G devices (in particular when there is no cell phone tower nearby and they try finding one with maximum broadcast power) and flight personnel can't be expected to tell them apart, "devices off" does make sense to me.

It would probably already mitigate the problem if there was a "cell tower" in the plane that listened to cellphones and told them "pipe down, I can perfectly hear you". It would not even need to actually provide a connection, just answer the cell phones' increasingly louder cries for attention.

Re:Hope the committee has a better grasp of units (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054323)

Phones don't randomly go off transmitting at maximum power when they lack a signal. Quite the opposite: they hop around in receive mode on all available channels until they find something. Otherwise they'd be violating spectrum rules all over the place - your phone isn't supposed to transmit until a tower tells it what band it needs to transmit on.

It is true that phones talking to a far-away tower with a weak signal will use higher transmit power, but they will not transmit at all if the tower is completely gone.

Now, if phones do manage to catch a weak signal from a tower down below, that could be an issue. I'm not sure how realistic that is, given that cell towers are designed to transmit sideways, not upwards, but it could happen.

Questions (4, Interesting)

Phroggy (441) | about 7 months ago | (#45053729)

How does the government shutdown affect the FAA's ability to make these sorts of policy changes? I would assume that the people who make these decisions have been furloughed, so all existing regulations stand until Congress gets their heads out of their asses?

Also, is there any danger posed by dozens of Kindles flying around the cabin in the event of a crash landing? I realize the current regulations allow non-electronic items such as books, but is this a concern at all?

It's encouraging to see these kinds of changes coming. I'm glad the FAA is revisiting this issue (or will be once we start paying them again).

Re:Questions (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053759)

I'd rather someone's kindle hit me than the latest "Game of Thrones" novel.

Re:Questions (2)

fuckface (32611) | about 7 months ago | (#45054833)

I always fly with a giant book that I read prominently during takeoff and landing in the hopes that it will take off someone's head in the event of an emergency and I can point at the episode and say "See??? Electronics has nothing to do with it. Fuck your regulations!"

Silly (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053743)

During most flights, about half of the cell phones remain turned on because passengers don't really know how to turn them off. Cell phone transmitters are a lot more powerful than wifi transmitters. the best way to stop cell phone use is to have a pico-cell in the airplane that intercepts teh calls and tells the passengers to shut down. The picocell is also so stong that the cell phones redujce thier TX power to almost nothing instead of ontreasing their power to reach cell towers outside of the aircraft.

The real reason to prohibit use of these devices is that takeoff and landing is statistically the most crash-prone and crash-survivable part of a flight, so the passengers should be paying attention. But this is true only for about one minute, not for the entire gate-to-10,000 ft time or 10.000 ft-to-landing time.

no set the pico-cell to be a non US one and the ro (4, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 7 months ago | (#45053763)

no set the pico-cell to be a non US one and the roaming fees will make people trun them off after they get the bill from 1 flight

Re:Silly (4, Insightful)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 7 months ago | (#45053821)

so the passengers should be paying attention

Paying attention to what? The fuel pressure? The air speed? The angle of the flaps?

If the plane's about to crash, get on the intercom and tell them you're about to crash. I guarantee you'll get their attention.

Re:Silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054159)

The instructions for what to do in an emergency, which are (correctly) given at a time when there is no actual emergency. Yes, yes, I know - all of us jet setters have internalized the "put on your own oxygen mask before assisting your child" speech, and would therefore perform emergency procedures efficiently and without prompting, even if asleep.

But seriously: as much as I hate the current state of air travel / security theater / etc. (I opt out of the body scanner every time on philosophical grounds.), I don't mind waiting the TEN F*CKING MINUTES it takes to listen to the safety spiel & attain altitude before plugging my ears with earbuds. And on some airlines, I don't even have to do that - on Jetblue, for instance, I can watch t.v. until they break in to give the seatbelt talk, all without the enormous burden of actually unplugging.

C'mon guys. Pick your battles. If people spent the energy they channel into whining about not being able to play Angry Birds every waking moment of the day toward forcing reform of the TSA, we'd be living in a much better world.

Re:Silly (1)

Octorian (14086) | about 7 months ago | (#45054303)

Except this explanation has been shown to be a crock. Its basically given in article comment threads across the Internet, but simply does not hold up.
If it were true, then please explain how "reading on a Kindle" is forbidden, while "reading the in-flight magazine or some paper book" is perfectly okay. There are a lot of non-electronic distractions that there are no rules prohibiting.

They don't say "put everything down and pay attention." They say "turn off all portable electronic devices."

Re:Silly (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 7 months ago | (#45054497)

That's only because they can't do the former, because only the ludicrous "your iThing might crash the plane" excuse still flies for some reason.

Re:Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054453)

The instructions for what to do in an emergency

Does that take up the entire time span of the take-off procedure?

Re:Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054463)

Pay attention to physical conditions. takeoff and landing accidents happen without warning. Passengers who are alert can save vital seconds when a plane smacks down early or fails to take off successfully. These are the types of accident that are rare but possible survivable if passengers act swiftly. But this is true only during about one minute at takeoff and one minute at landing,

no time for warnings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054901)

so the passengers should be paying attention

Paying attention to what? The fuel pressure? The air speed? The angle of the flaps?

If the plane's about to crash, get on the intercom and tell them you're about to crash. I guarantee you'll get their attention.

Because sometimes there's no time for the warning:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_358
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asiana_Airlines_Flight_214

There are many cases where the pilots don't have the fore knowledge of the disaster until it's actually happening, and they're too busy dealing with it to get on the PA.

Re:Silly (1)

Entropius (188861) | about 7 months ago | (#45054489)

So should they ban me from having a book or talking to the passenger next to me, too?

Re:Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054921)

So should they ban me from having a book or talking to the passenger next to me, too?

From reading a book, possibly yes, depending on how engrossed you're in it. Talking has been shown to distract from one's environment, but not to the same level as (say) being on a cellphone or reading, so it's probably safe to engage in idle talking.

Once upon a time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053747)

Before Britain became a nanny state, if it were determined, e.g. that most people were driving 40mph in a 35mph zone, the council would raise the limit to 40. IOW the government bowed to the will of the people. (Obvious safety issues aside, e.g. they would not raise the limit near a school, etc.)

Here in America it would seem the will of the people doesn't count for much. (And we know from things like the Republican's shutdown of the government that at least they don't give a rat's ass about the will of the people; no surprise there.)

So, apart from obvious, demonstrable safety issues, which there don't seem to be any, it's a puzzle as to why a non-partisan body like the FAA isn't more accountable to the the people.

Yes... Heaven help us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053749)

If passengers have to be untethered from their smartphone apps, texts, and games of Candy Crush Saga for 20 minutes up and down. Sheesh! Babies.

Require stowing of potential projectiles (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about 7 months ago | (#45053767)

In a crash, unstowed gear represent potential projectiles:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=128062&page=1 [go.com]

Re:Require stowing of potential projectiles (1)

Octorian (14086) | about 7 months ago | (#45054321)

"Unstowed gear" does not exclusively equal "Personal electronic devices"

There are other rules about what does or doesn't have to be stowed during takeoff and landing, which have nothing to do with whether the item in question is "electronic."

Re:Require stowing of potential projectiles (2)

pepty (1976012) | about 7 months ago | (#45054493)

I wonder if Apple's design patent for rounded corners on its widgets has a claim for "less likely to poke into user's skull when launched at high speed".

Re:Require stowing of potential projectiles (2)

msauve (701917) | about 7 months ago | (#45054577)

Reminds me of an old Shelley Berman joke - âoeYou put on your seat belt. That way, when the plane comes to a sudden stop, say against a mountain, only the top half of you will fly through the cabin, while the bottom half remains, legs crossed, in the seat.â

Journalistic pseudo-science (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053769)

There may well be solid technical arguments for reversing the current FAA policy, but Nick Bilton's articles certainly don't make them. Nor does the explanation attributed to the EMT Labs engineers, at least if it was described accurately. On the other hand, statements like "An Amazon Kindle emitted less than 30 microvolts per meter when in use. That is only 0.00003 of a volt" are clearly designed to make what sounds like a convincing argument to non-scientists, whether or not this argument actually has any technical merit.

As an illustration: the nominal signal strength of a GPS signal at the antenna of a receiver is specified to be -160 dBW (this is for a standard "reference" antenna, i.e. right-hand circularly polarized, under open sky conditions). That's one-ten-thousandth of one-one-millionth of one-one-millionth of a watt. In a standard 50-ohm RF system, this corresponds to a voltage of about 0.000000071, which is over four hundred times smaller (weaker) than the "only 0.00003 of a volt" signal measured off the Kindle. Viewed in that light, it's hardly clear that the Kindle's emissions are negligible. (Never mind the fact that no mention whatsoever is made of what frequency or frequencies they've measured in that setup, and that the anechoic chamber pictured in the article is typically configured to measure direct line-of-sight field strength, whereas inside an aircraft there are all sorts of complicated effects -- absorption by passengers and seats, reflection by metal surfaces, etc. So I'm not sure this is even a meaningful measurement to be making in the first place.) In any case, since GPS is considered a safety-of-life system in aircraft navigation, anything that can even come close to disrupting its ability to acquire and track signals is a potential problem.

The bottom line is that the kind of pseudo-scientific argumentation in this article isn't really helpful. As I said, there may well be sound technical reasons to relax the devices ban. But this doesn't really present any of them.

-CF

Re:Journalistic pseudo-science (2)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 7 months ago | (#45053867)

It also doesn't help the argument when the pilots themselves are allowed to use iPads!

Re:Journalistic pseudo-science (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054003)

A pilot using an electronic device is different from passengers using an electronic device. If the pilot determines that there is interference, the pilot can shut the device off or use different navigation methods. If a passenger's device is causing interference, one must first find that passenger and then get him or her to turn the thing off. This takes a lot longer and it is logistically difficult.

As an electrical engineer and as an instrument rated pilot, I have seen electronic toys cause interference to aircraft navigation equipment. I caught that issue and corrected it (it was my own portable FM radio).

There is a certain degree of arrogance among passengers that goes along the lines of "if the crew can do this, so should I." Remember, in flight, the aircraft cabin is not a democracy. You take orders from the Captain and the Crew working on his or her behalf. If you do not, you can be forced, using whatever means necessary to attain compliance.

When you arrive, you may file whatever law suits you wish --but do note that they will be governed by admiralty law, not the law of whatever land or state you may have come from or arrived at.

There are many innocuous devices out there which will mess with aircraft navigation. In most cases, the problems are easily found and corrected for. But they do happen, and when they happen, they're very difficult to detect and stop.

Sure, the devices used in the cockpit have a failure rate of 0.001% or less. But they can do weird things and they can affect all sorts of instruments. Just remember that when screaming down an ILS at 150 knots on a dark and stormy night.

Re:Journalistic pseudo-science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054797)

There are many innocuous devices out there which will mess with aircraft navigation. In most cases, the problems are easily found and corrected for. But they do happen, and when they happen, they're very difficult to detect and stop.

Sure, the devices used in the cockpit have a failure rate of 0.001% or less. But they can do weird things and they can affect all sorts of instruments. Just remember that when screaming down an ILS at 150 knots on a dark and stormy night.

Stop the fear mongering of "it could go wrong! Be safe!" with such improbable issues. If it is a real issue then fix the cockpit so it is not a threat. Otherwise a terrorist, if they actually existed in non-infinitesimal quantities, could crash it n purpose without actually revealing the screen so a flight attendant won't tell them to turn it off.

This is like if a snowflake that weighed exactly 0.0001 grams was enough to trigger a shattering of my windshield that then triggered a rupture in the fuel tank and a sudden air mix that resulted in a fireball. the solution to that problem is not to avoid driving on snowy days, but the fix the damn car.

LOL (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 7 months ago | (#45054881)

Your comment made me laugh pretty good. I imagine some old lady firing up Candy Crush and suddenly all the displays in the cockpit show a frown face and the plane nosedives. Until someone has evidence of these devices causing interference I call the whole thing voodoo. How do cell millions of cell phones with a built in GPS receiver not interfere with each other?

Re:Journalistic pseudo-science (1)

Paltin (983254) | about 7 months ago | (#45054117)

An additional weakness in these arguments is that they are using perfectly functioning devices.

What happens when you have some dumbass with a wildly broken thing get on a plane? Testing needs to occur under the worst possible conditions, not the best possible.

We already knew it was safe in the best possible conditions.

600 million people fly each year. A HUGE number. They need to find out if it is safe for every device in all possible combinations and all possible conditions, because the real world will present those combinations very quickly.

Don't start with the best case, start with the 1 in a million case. Proceed from there.

Re:Journalistic pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054535)

600 million people fly each year. A HUGE number. They need to find out if it is safe for every device in all possible combinations and all possible conditions, because the real world will present those combinations very quickly.

Except that they don't. If there was any real, tangible risk whatsoever, your electronic shit would be barred from your carry-on.

It isn't. There's not. Now shut up and listen to our credit card offer.

Re:Journalistic pseudo-science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054829)

An additional weakness in these arguments is that they are using perfectly functioning devices.

What happens when you have some dumbass with a wildly broken thing get on a plane? Testing needs to occur under the worst possible conditions, not the best possible.

We already knew it was safe in the best possible conditions.

600 million people fly each year. A HUGE number. They need to find out if it is safe for every device in all possible combinations and all possible conditions, because the real world will present those combinations very quickly.

Don't start with the best case, start with the 1 in a million case. Proceed from there.

I've heard 0 fatalities tracked to kindle use by passengers on a plane. You're suggesting I worry about something with less than a 1 in 600,000,000 chance. I'm about ten times as likely to be killed by lightening when walking around outside.

What if someone deliberately builds a gizmo to pump 100watts on those frequencies and leaves it in his backpack and triggers it on stormy night landings? Maybe they should fix the plane for that risk and not worry about accidentally broken toys. Or use two way encrypted gps based off the tower at the airport so hackers can't fiddle with it either.

Ummm... (1)

NMBob (772954) | about 7 months ago | (#45053771)

How about I'd like everyone to put away their precious CRAP and pay attention during takeoff and landing just in case, oh I don't know, we all need to get out in a hurry. This is silly. There are just a couple more important things going on at any given time during a flight than killing that last little piggy.

Re: Ummm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45053951)

Chill. Not your call on what is appropriate for me. People will do what is needed when an emergency happens.

Re: Ummm... (2)

pepty (1976012) | about 7 months ago | (#45054635)

People will do what is needed when an emergency happens.

Asiana flight 214: People take their luggage when exiting a burning plane via the emergency chute, others try to re-enter a burning plane to get their luggage.

Re:Ummm... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 7 months ago | (#45054055)

I guarantee you that if something goes wrong that requires an emergency evacuation. People will have plenty of time to avert their eyes from their phones. They aren't driving the plane.

Re:Ummm... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#45054423)

Are you kidding? They'll be on their phones, texting and tweeting their little brains out. OMG! IM GONNA DIE!.

Re:Ummm... (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 7 months ago | (#45054593)

Jet Fuel burns at 980C. If they are watching the runway literally boil, they will get off their damn phone PDQ.

Re:Ummm... (2)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about 7 months ago | (#45054437)

How about I'd like everyone to put away their precious CRAP and pay attention during takeoff and landing just in case, oh I don't know, we all need to get out in a hurry.

Pay attention to what? The back side of the seat in front of me?

Perhaps I should use the time to contemplate how very tenuous this thing called life is and how easily it can be snuffed out instantly in the event this aircraft suddenly explodes in a huge fireball on takeoff. Maybe I should take very careful notice of the location of the exit doors and meticulously plan how I'm going to incapacitate the unfortunate innocents in my way as I desperately attempt to flee the impending disaster.

There are just a couple more important things going on at any given time during a flight than killing that last little piggy.

Yes, but those things are all going on in the cockpit and out of my control. Perhaps I should play a little game to keep my mind preoccupied, as I admit I have a little problem with flying, actually.

If devices left on could take a plane down... (5, Insightful)

Trip6 (1184883) | about 7 months ago | (#45053789)

it would have happened by now. Everybody leaves them on.

Re:If devices left on could take a plane down... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054145)

Didn't the plane headed for Washington D.C. on September 11 crash prematurely after frantic mobile phone use?

Re:If devices left on could take a plane down... (1, Offtopic)

Aero77 (1242364) | about 7 months ago | (#45054343)

Too soon dude. Seriously.

Re:If devices left on could take a plane down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054689)

9/11 Never forget. Never fucking forget.

That and (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 7 months ago | (#45054229)

It'd be pretty easy for a terrorist type to make something you could use from the ground. If the very small amount of EMF generated by electronic devices on the plane was a problem, well someone could make something that emits a lot more, but not a ton, down a fairly narrow beam from the ground and it would have the same effect.

Planes are shielded, it just isn't an issue. This is just the FAA refusing to admit they've been being stupid. The FCC has told them they are being stupid, but they won't back down. It was one of those rules that made sense in the beginning: This is something new and it could cause problems, so let's prohibit it until we've time to test it. Well, it has been tested, extensively, and that's no issue. So remove the rule. But they didn't, and they kept not doing it, and kept on and kept on way past any kind of sense, so now they keep on doing it because they don't want to look stupid (which just makes them look worse).

My cousin is a military pilot and has no fucks to give about electronics being on when he's flying. As he says, if his (military issued) iPad is dangerous to his aircraft then he is completely fucked when he flys by an Aegis radar.

Re:That and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054571)

This reminds me of an interesting point, that most airlines are issuing tablets to their pilots instead of flight manuals. So the pilots of the shelf ipads etc are not interfering but passenger devices are?

Re:If devices left on could take a plane down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054241)

This is the part I don't get. If electronic devices may interfere with a plane, why aren't people demanding that they fix the planes? Right now a bad guy could bring down the plane with something as simple as a faulty gadget, and the plane may have children on board. Think of the children, fix the planes already!

I know the rules are bogus (0)

CptNerd (455084) | about 7 months ago | (#45053829)

I flew from DFW to Reagan National with my iPad accidently left turned on in my backpack. The plan didn't so much as wobble in turbulence, much less crash or fly off course do to "interference."

Re: I know the rules are bogus (1, Interesting)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about 7 months ago | (#45054169)

This is plus two? I left my shit on and I'm alive so that's proof that electronics don't interfere with the radio or instruments? Maybe the copilots radar altimeter went wonky due to you and you only were saved from potential disaster because autopilot was fed from the captain's instruments?

Your statement is less then meaningless. Nothing very well may have happend and and very likely didn't, but maybe you added one link to a causality chain which could have occured, but did not.

Re: I know the rules are bogus (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054311)

you idiot. i leave all my devices on (yes all 6!) from takeoff to landing and i have never had a problem in 20 years of flying aircraft. none of the instruments so much as twitch when you turn devices on and off.
go fuck yourself.

the reason this took so long is obvious (1)

bitt3n (941736) | about 7 months ago | (#45053835)

This took so long to fix for the same reason pocket knives aren't allowed on planes, despite the fact they're no more useful a tool for mayhem than many implements that are allowed: a relatively small group of people highly motivated to maintain the status quo (in this case a confederacy of hysterical air-hostesses) always wins out over a much larger group of people who are far less motivated to see change.

This is the same reason the tax code is so hard to fix: for every loophole you have a small group of impassioned beneficiaries fighting against a much larger group who collectively aren't much harmed by it, and thus lack sufficient interest in fighting it.

pocket knives (1)

voss (52565) | about 7 months ago | (#45054193)

Im rather glad pocket knives are not allowed on planes. Some idiot accidentally lacerates himself at 30,000 feet can be problematic

The idea that an unopened can of coca cola is a threat is loopy.

Re:pocket knives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054253)

If you can unintentionally lacerate yourself with a pocket knife, you can do it with a coke can.

Re:pocket knives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054417)

Once you have a guy with a pocket knife who considers an unopened can of coca cola a threat, things can get ugly fast.

That's basically Boy Scouts 101.

Re:pocket knives (5, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | about 7 months ago | (#45054443)

How foolish of me to have forgotten that epidemic of oafs bleeding out from self-inflicted pen-knife injuries in the dark decades before those seductive instruments of mayhem had yet ceased to imperil the skies.

Re:pocket knives (4, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about 7 months ago | (#45054455)

...but two or three cans of Coke combined together are a danger. Just ask Michael Bloomberg.

Re:pocket knives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054941)

Im rather glad pocket knives are not allowed on planes. Some idiot accidentally lacerates himself at 30,000 feet can be problematic

The idea that an unopened can of coca cola is a threat is loopy.

You can open the can, drink the beverage, then twist the can to tear it open and have a 6" blade suitable for mounting in your legal pre-sculpted wooden/plastic handle.

Razor wire can be embedded in any carry on shoulder strap.

You can bring empty bottles into the airport, mix your confederates binary explosives there (assuming binary explosives were ever a threat, they're not) and use it on the plane.

You can mix up industrial pesticide CycloneB/sarin/raid in a pressure pot and seal it into a plastic/ceramic decorative orb, then break it open on the plane poisoning everyone and killing half before they realize they need to vent the plane.

That's about 2 seconds thought on your coke can comment.

To all of that I say... So what.

You cannot stop a suicide bomber in a free society. They can't keep drugs out of prison or the army where people lose/sign their rights away, you really think they can stop broad swatches of action from people with rights before the fact?

When we lose more than 3,000,000 people a year in the US to terrorism I may reconsider. That's about two and a half 9/11's a day - every day. Until then I find a 1% casualty rate acceptable to protect rights, freedoms and progress.

Re:the reason this took so long is obvious (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#45054861)

Think about 9/11. Compare the size of a pocket knife blade to that of a box cutter. Most pocket knifes I've seen have larger blades than box cutters.

The 'confederacy of hysterical air-hostesses' included the ones who were getting their throats slit on 9/11. So I can sort of see their point.

Re:the reason this took so long is obvious (1)

bitt3n (941736) | about 7 months ago | (#45055007)

Even they themselves allow that such knives could not be used to hijack a plane again.

GSM is the problem (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 7 months ago | (#45053839)

Most portable electronics aren't an issue since their unintentional radiation is regulated to reasonably low levels and intentional emitters tend to be in the 2.4GHz band where no critical flight systems should be sensitive. GSM phones, however, have widely been reported to produce notable interference with aircraft radios.

Re:GSM is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054555)

No shit. Place a mobile phone next to a running radio, and you'll hear any SMS before your phone announces it.

Doesn't make a difference if you are tuned to AM or FM: you get the same result with a fscking tape recorder.

30 uvolts will interfer with aircraft radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054009)

30 uvolts meter is a value that will interfere with aircraft radio recievers. The test levels are in 2 directions, withstanding 200 Vm without destruction and recovery from after threat is gone and sensitivity where 30 uvm will fail the standard set requirements for non interference. if a kindle or other passenger device were to be really low level it should be at 1 or less and that is extremely expensive to do, down where its actual power consumption should be less than a milliwatt.

Claire McCaskill (2)

jbolden (176878) | about 7 months ago | (#45054037)

I think we should give credit here. Congress has been hassling the FAA on this. In particular U.S. Senator for Missouri Claire McCaskill. Let's give her some credit for a job well done.

take-offs and landing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054041)

I think we've know for a while now that most modern aircraft don't have issues with interference from electronic devices (certainly as an EE I believe this).

However, I would still consider the banning theuse of electronic devices (and indeed of any other activity besides just sitting there) below a few thousand feet a good idea. The reason is that most shit happens during take-offs and landings, and if it does, it would be prudent to be aware of one's surroundings in the case of an emergency.

If you're dealing with e-mail, or watching a movie, or listening to music, or reading a book, then your mind's attention is focused away for your surroundings. If you have only 90-120 seconds to get out of an aircraft before it goes up in flames, spending 10-20 of those seconds going "WTF just happened?" and trying to put away your devices which could be blocking other people's exit, is a bad idea.

Certainly once you reach a 'reasonable' altitude (10K ft/3 km? 5K ft /1.5 km?) all people to turn stuff on, but IMHO the first little while should be devoted to be prepared for a disaster.

Re:take-offs and landing (1)

Octorian (14086) | about 7 months ago | (#45054353)

Yet "reading a book" is completely permissible. Provided, of course, that the book in question is being read off of processed dead tree. How exactly does "reading off an ebook reader" change the situation?

Thus, this explanation is a completely crock.

Square meter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054061)

What the hell is a volt per square meter?

Do I have to measure from across the sides or the corners of the square? A volt per circle would at least be slightly less ambiguous.

That includes WiFi? (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about 7 months ago | (#45054107)

That's with WiFi on?

And I don't quite understand, WiFi is included on my leg from LaGuardia->DFW, and part of the trip to NY, I plan on using my kindle to watch Netflix. Hope the speeds are sufficient.

Are they talking about allowing electronics throughout; from boarding to grabbing your stuff to exit?

Rules? (3, Insightful)

no-body (127863) | about 7 months ago | (#45054209)

Cranky stewardesses are the rulers: "take that headphone off!", me: "it's not connected", she, with stern voice: "take it off now!".

Sure nullyfies any FAA relaxation.

30 uV/m vs 200 V/m (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054375)

Assuming it's a typo for V/m that is still comparing apples and oranges.

The 200 V/m spec is probably a "no damage" threshold over all frequencies and waveforms.
The concern is about the spurious emissions jamming the receiver, and the sensitivity of the aircraft receivers are such that a field of 30uV/m with a suitable waveform could interfere.

30 uV/m is -116 dBW/square meter.

For a typical VHF radio, the antenna can be represented as a half wave dipole, with an effective aperture of about 0.125 * lambda^2, or 0.125*2.5*2.5 (Aircraft radio is around 120MHz, so lambda is about 2.5m).. that's roughly 0.75 square meters.. Let's make it easy and call it an even square meter.

So we're looking at a power into the receiver of -86 dBm. That's pretty big against a likely noise floor of around -135 dBm (3kHz BW, 4 dB NF, -174 dBm/Hz kT)

What is the power the radio is seeing from a 10 Watt ground or airplane transmitter, say, 100 km away.. (which is not very far in an enroute or even in a terminal approach situation. 500km might be better)
Prec = +40dBm -35.44 - 20*log10(100) - 20*log10(120) = +40 -35.44 - 40-41.6

about -77 dBm

So the interference is about 10dB below the desired signal. Now let's say you've got 100 of those iPads.. Now you've got interference 10dB above the desired signal.

The desired signal is about 14 dB less for 500 km away (-91 dBm)

This is not good.

Sure, the iPad is probably wideband, but what we worry about here is things like harmonics of the internal clock oscillator, which tend to be narrow band.

Better for kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054449)

My toddlers get through the flights with ipad games. Takeoff and landing is them screaming their lungs out when we turn them off.
I look forward to the rules changing if only for this.

Re:Better for kids (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054793)

I look forward to toddlers being placed in pet carriers in the hold for flights if only for this.

Better for kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054473)

Our toddlers scream non stop when we turn off their devices for takeoff and landing. Not much else for them to do on a plane.

FAA: We`re not happy until you're unhappy !!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054565)

Enough said.

Millions kindles (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 7 months ago | (#45054667)

From TFS

An Amazon Kindle emitted less than 30 microvolts per meter when in use. That is only 0.00003 of a volt. A Boeing 747 must withstand 200 volts per square meter. That is millions of Kindles packed into each square meter of the plane

This assume the radiations of each device adds up, which is not likely to be the case. Unless their emission is specifically engineered, electromagnetism waves from different devices cancel each other in destructive interference patterns.

Oh, good, Congress knows best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054957)

FTA : Ms. McCaskill said she was not prepared to wait.“If the F.A.A. doesn’t come out with a reasonably prompt timeline in the next 60 to 90 days, then I will go full bore to get this done legislatively,” she said.

When Congress starts dictating relaxed safety riles to the FAA, I'm going to stop flying.

A few minutes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45054999)

People can put their computers down for a few minutes... Even me who is attached to his almost constantly. I don't mind it, neither should they.

Retirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45055005)

The rules change when the last old guy who always votes no, leaves, or retires, or dies.
That's how most of these things work.

(Said the old guy at the back)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...