Inching Closer To Relaxed Rules For Electronics In Flight

If you’ve been on a plane any time in the past 5 years, you know the drill.  All those electronics need to be off before the plane can push back from the gate, right?  But, the pilots are using iPads in the cockpit for navigation?  It’s always seemed to me like and odd battle to fight.

It’s been rumored for some time that the FAA is going to relax the restrictions on the use of electronics during taxi, takeoff and landing.  Just rumors, but lots of them.  Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting on bits of an FAA report that’s been leaked that further strengthens the belief this will come soon.

My original belief is that this would happen at the end of 2013, and this new article has a few tidbits that seem to back up that timeline.  For example, the FAA has granted the advisory panel a two-month delay to finalized their findings:

The FAA likely won’t make a formal decision on the matter until after it receives the final version of the advisory panel’s study, now delayed two months to the end of September.

An FAA spokeswoman released a statement saying the agency “recognizes consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft, that is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions.”

“At the group’s request,” the statements adds, “the FAA has granted the two-month extension to complete the additional work necessary for the safety assessment.”

The article also covers a snippet of the report that shows the general thinking on the issue:

“As the consumer electronics industry has exploded,” the report says, the FAA’s traditional stance of giving individual airlines leeway to evaluate the safety of specific devices before allowing them to remain on at low altitude “has become untenable.” In practice, airlines follow the FAA’s guidance and slap a blanket prohibition on all devices until planes climb to 10,000 feet.

The airlines (and the FAA) want consistency.  And, that’s a good strategy, no doubt.  But, it’s time to tie this one off and make a decision.  Which means they won’t anytime soon.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. I’ve only been on vacation once that required a plane ride and this is a rule I never understood. If my iPhone and/or iPad are in airplane mode it won’t mess with any any of the planes controls. I hope this is a rule that is changed.

    On a side note. My first plane ride was almost delayed because the guy in front of me wouldn’t hang up his phone.

    1. Justin, you need to put down the guns and get on planes more. No question this is a rule I haven’t understood for quite some time. But I think we’re likely to see change soon, in bits and pieces.

  2. Every single commercial plane that has taken off in the US in the last ten years has had several (if not lots of) electronic devices on during take off. I see it all the time, people simply turning off the screens on iPads/iPhones etc.

    Has there been any bona fide navigation or other safety issue attributable to that? Not that I am aware of.

    Versus….what percent of commercial 787 flights have had mechanical issues?

    1. Sitinfirst, I’ve heard stories of interference on older planes. Not sure if they’re true, but this is mostly just a broken system issue. The FAA is too damn lazy to have taken over this process sooner and the airlines don’t have the capital to test each device on each plane type thousands of times to provide the data to the FAA. Not surprising, but hopefully better soon.

Leave a Reply