June 26, 2013
One Step Closer To Using iPads During Takeoff
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The FAA and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK look ready to lighten the ban against the use of mobile devices in flight. This restriction has been a source of contention for many fliers. Last week, the FAA issued a draft report that could allow the use of mobile devices during taxi, takeoff and landing, doing away with the pleas of the flight attendants to turn off and stow all electronic devices. A few days later, airline British Airways became the first European airline to allow fliers to switch on their devices when they’ve left the runway or landed after the CAA said they felt confident there were no safety concerns. The FAA has had a committee investigating any potential hazards in using devices mid-flight since January. This group is expected to report their findings to the American agency in September.
In their draft proposal, the FAA once more explains their initial stance in banning the use of portable electronic devices (or PEDs) in flight, saying the radio frequencies emitted by e-readers, smartphones and tablets may interfere with instrumentation in the cockpit. Yet as some airlines have begun allowing pilots to use tablets in the cockpit instead of bulky paper flight manuals, many began to wonder about the radio interference claims. The FAA mentions this in their proposal, noting that airlines must first prove there is no interference with the plane’s electronic systems before they allow the pilots to use their electronic devices. Though the aviation agency looks prepared to allow the use of PEDs during takeoff and landing, they are not considering the use of cell phones to make voice calls. This, says the report, is a matter of FCC regulation that prohibits any airborne phone calls.
The current FAA regulations were first drawn up in 1966, decades before mobile devices became as ubiquitous as they are in today’s society. It was during this time that the FAA became worried about electromagnetic disturbances and radio interference and issued a sweeping ban against PEDs. However, as customers began to complain about and question the validity of these concerns, the FAA slowly began to investigate the policies. The Aviation Rulemaking Committee was created in January following a request from FCC chairman Julius Genachowski urging the FAA to reevaluate these outdated restrictions.
It’s also been said that the FAA is looking to move quickly on this decision, as many fliers simply ignore these rules and leave their devices powered on at all points during the flight.
Following the FAA’s lead, the CAA said they were convinced there are no safety issues to consider in cell phone use when the plane has landed and has allowed British Airways to begin letting their passengers pick up their devices once the plane exits the runway. Previously, fliers had to wait until they exited the plane before they could turn on and use their PEDs, a far stricter regulation than the current FAA laws.
"Customers will no longer have the frustration of having to wait until their plane has arrived at the terminal building before being able to use their mobile phones and other handheld electronic devices," explained British Airways’ flight training manger in a statement to the BBC.
“Now they'll have that extra time to phone ahead for that important business meeting, check their emails, or make sure someone is there to meet them at the airport."