Finally Some Sanity at the FAA and EASA

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For many years I have complained about FAA regulations that defied logic. In 2008 I said the following when pondering if gadgets make airplanes crash:

First you can use laptops on planes — even during take off. Then you can’t. Then you can — but not after the aircraft door closes. In all cases you can’t use any gadget emitting radio waves. Then the airlines start charging for WiFi and you can use devices with radio waves. But not VoIP.

In 2011 I reiterated my thoughts about how ludicrous this policy is.

Now of course you can use tablets but not laptops on US flights – for the entire flight.

Now Europe has gotten into the act thanks to their EASA, you can use your gadgets on flights in Europe as well. I do remember getting yelled at by a European flight attendant once for having a phone on after the flight landed. She treated me like I was trying to light a barrel of gasoline.

Here is more from the agency:

Airlines can also allow the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) throughout the flight, after a safety assessment process. As a result, passengers will be able to use their PEDs just like in any other mode of transport: throughout the trip.

The new guidance allows airlines to permit PEDs to stay switched on, without the need to be in ‘Airplane Mode’. This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or WiFi services.

PEDs include any kind of electronic device brought on board the aircraft by a passenger such as smartphone, tablet, laptop, e-reader, MP3 player, etc.

It is up to each airline to decide to allow the use of PEDs. In order to do this, the airline will have to go through an assessment process, ensuring aircraft systems are not affected in any way by the transmission signals from the PEDs. For this reason, there may be differences among airlines whether and when PEDs can be used.

Passengers must at all times follow the airline crew instructions. Safety always comes first onboard of an aircraft.

The lack of logic at these agencies has been truly shocking. As I have written before, if an airplane is on a runway or in the air and there are hundreds of sources of radio waves such as AM and FM radio, satellite, shortwave, etc. a few phones aren’t going to do much more damage to the instrumentation. If you remember, there was once a ludicrous concern that in-flight devices would somehow keep the pilot from flying the plane.

Having said that, anyone who is friends with a person with a private yet or has been on such a flight, knows they keep their electronics on for the entire flight and yet there is never a problem. Moreover, there are no-doubt countless situations where people forget to turn off there electronics in past years while on flights and yet, not a single-time did this result in a problem.

So now the major regulatory bodies in the west which manage airlines have seen reason and logic and will allow us to use our devices. It is about time.

If they want to make themselves truly useful going forward, how about passing a rule that keeps the in-flight announcements from deafening headphone wearers.

Loek Essers has some thoughts on the matter as well.

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