Tech Watch: Reconsidering In-Flight Ban On Electronic Devices

Brian Cooley, CNET Editor at large
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Airplane passengers use laptops in-flight. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Airplane passengers use laptops in-flight. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – The Federal Aviation Administration has announced it will reconsider the current regulations that ban the use of electronic devices during takeoff, landing or sometimes the entire flight.

An FAA task force will take a fresh look at use of laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld gaming devices at times when you must put them away currently.

Currently, these devices must be powered off during takeoff and landing, yet they are OK to be powered up mid-flight and now you can even use Wi-Fi in flight for internet connections.

No commercial U.S. flight I know of has ever been put in jeopardy, let alone crashed, due to passenger electronics interference. If that sounds like a ringing endorsement that the device ban is working, realize that on any given flight that are almost certainly a handful of tablets, phones, e-readers and laptops left on in the cabin and in the baggage hold. That’s millions of flights without an incident, and plenty of credible reasoning that they never did pose a threat.

Radio frequency emissions are not the only reason for the current bans. Another major reason is the assumption that hard, dense portable devices can become projectiles in the cabin during the takeoff or landing, when aircraft dynamics can be put into flux very quickly. It’s the same reason you have to sit down and buckle up at those times.

Note, this is NOT about allowing cell phone calls in flight. The public comment period begins end of August and runs for 60 days. A report from the task force is expected first quarter of 2013.

 

 

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

 

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