Everyone remembers when Alec Baldwin was kicked off an American Airlines flight for playing Words with Friends on his iPad. While he was being a bit elitist in his actions, we all know how it feels. As soon as the plane leaves the boarding gate we have to shut off our electronic devices until the plane has reached a certain altitude. Phones, we may believe could disrupt navigations, but why an iPad, especially one that doesn’t have 3 or 4G capability?
Apparently the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is finally asking the same question.
According to the New York Times, the FAA has decided to take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics, excluding cell phones, on planes.
Deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the FAA told the New York Times that the agency is going to explore testing e-readers and tablets, as well as other electronic devices, something that has not been done since 2006.
“With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft.”
Testing of these devices will be an arduous task for the FAA. According to Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, current guidelines require airlines to test each version of a device before the FAA will approve it, including each generation of gadget. The tests must be conducted in separate flights with no passengers on all the different models of planes in the fleet. Lunardini calls these regulations “prohibitively expensive.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration regularly collects reports regarding electronics-related incidents. “Of 50 incidents in the most recent report check from last year, few had anything to do with cockpit interference.”
While it may be a number of years before we will be able to play Infinity Blade on our iPads during takeoff and landing of domestic flights, the future looks brighter for electronics.