FAA is Thinking About Allowing iPads on Planes

Everybody hates the annoying safety announcement that comes on before a flight take-off. The only thing that is more annoying is the flight attendants’ insistence that all electronic devices are turned-off during take off and landing. Ever found yourself immensely involved in an e-book or an app only to be disturbed by the cold tap on the shoulder by the flight attendant asking you to turn the device off ? It’s a pointless rule, grounded in archaic and unscientific reasons and, fortunately, going away pretty soon.
Yes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is planning to revise its existing list of allowed devices on airplanes and it is putting greater focus on e-readers and tablet devices. Nick Bilton of the New York Times reports that the last time list was revised back in 2006 e-readers and tablets where not as wide-spread as they are now and it is good thing that the FAA has finally seen the light.
Interesting tidbit in this story is the fact that it’s not the FAA’s rigid policy that contributed towards this unreasonable restriction on electronics devices, but the procedures and costs involved in making a device eligible for use during flight take-offs and landings. According to FAA, any carrier can start allowing its customer to use a particular device after it proves that the particular device, down to the exact version, is safe to operate in the airplane model in which it will be allowed for use. This means, if Delta wants to allow the use of iPads in its transatlantic flights, then it has to make test flights across the Atlantic ocean with every single airplane model in its fleet while a tester uses the latest iPad on-board and thus proving its safe to use. Delta will have to do this for every version for each device, which means the original iPad, the iPad 2 and the new iPad all need to be tested in separate flights. Then you have all the different versions of Kindles, Nooks and Playbooks. Since no customers are allowed on test flights, the planes will be empty and, as you may have guessed by now, the cost of getting approvals for these devices is excessively forbidding and has no interest from the Airline companies.
This kind of convoluting and inefficient methods seem to somehow originate from offices of bureaucracies and it makes allowing cellphones almost impossible since there are literally thousands of cell phone models out there which need to be individually tested.
At least the FAA is finally taking the initiative

The F.A.A. [..] is exploring how to bring together electronics manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers to figure out how to allow greater use of these electronics on planes.

With so many groups involved its hard to imagine a sensible solution emerging from this, but if they could at least get rid of that ridiculous pre-flight announcement, I’ll be a happy traveller.

Also, they can keep their peanuts.

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