F.A.A. Reconsiders Long Criticized Mobile Device Ban
By G+ Author: Jacquelyn Tanner.
About a month or so ago I wrote an article about mobile devices on airplanes. The article I titled So What is the Real Deal with Mobile Phones and Airplane Safety? discussed the F.A.A rule requiring all mobile devices be turned off during landing and takeoff, and for cell service to remain off at all times. Many people(qualified–not me) argue that it is completely unnecessary rule while some argue that there are more than a few compelling reasons it is necessary. As I am deathly afraid of flying I was conflicted on the issue. My thoughts were, “I covet every little thing that can distract me as the big metal machine begins to magically float in the air; thus when they make me turn off my FAVORITE device it is like really upsetting. On the other hand, as my brain likes to over-analyze everything that is going on while suspended 10,000 feet above the air I have had the following thought more than a few times: If a couple of turned on phones could potentially bring down an entire plane, WHY ARE THEY EVEN ALLOWED ON IN THE FIRST PLACE?”
Seeing as the F.A.A. is considering relaxing the rules for devices on planes, it seems I wasn’t the only person to wonder about the issue. Rumor has it that a special advisory board assigned by the F.A.A. is going to announce a decision on relaxing the ban sometime around September 2013. The push to change the rules was brought of public and government criticism. The NYTimes writes of the issue “Over the last two years the F.A.A. has come under increased pressure to relax the rules for devices on airplanes. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, has threatened to introduce legislation to overturn the rules if the F.A.A. does not act.“It’s good to see the F.A.A. may be on the verge of acknowledging what the traveling public has suspected for years — that current rules are arbitrary and lack real justification,” Senator McCaskill said on Friday.”
The special F.A.A. advisory panel, however, is taking its time making a decision and rightfully so. Of course air safety is a huge issue and their are many who still argue the ban is necessary. The NYTimes quotes David Carson, a former co-chairman of a group commissioned by the F.A.A. in 2006, he says “The broader picture here is that all carry-on items are to be stowed completely for considerations of physical safety: reduced likelihood of loose objects in the cabin,… There is also the factor of reducing distractions so passengers are more likely to pay attention to flight attendant announcements.” There is also the wide concern and belief that the banned electronics have the potential to interfere with the planes avionics. In response to this, NASA’s aviation Safety Reporting System reported that it has not found evidence that consumer electronics interfere with plane avionics.
In addition to the above news, the NYTimes Bits wrote an additional article about Wi-Fi on flights. More specifically, the article discusses the increase in inflight wi-fi availability. The article states, “After many years of halting starts and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, in-flight Wi-Fi is coming into its own, with 8,700 domestic flights, 38 percent of the total, offering Internet connectivity, according to a report by Routehappy.com.” Nonetheless the high cost of inflight wi-fi continues to deter people, and halt the growth of the in-air wi-fi industry. Bits quotes Mary Kirby of Airline Passanger Experience, who suggests however, “that with a rapidly growing number of passengers carrying Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and tablets, and with signals coming from the Federal Aviation Administration that restrictions may be eased on the use of such devices during taxiing, takeoff and landing, airlines that fail to offer in-flight connectivity are likely to be at a competitive disadvantage.”