In what seems like a long overdue decision, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has decided that it’s time to take another look at the effects of smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices on plane equipment while in flight. The FAA is forming a new group, comprised of airline, technology, and aviation representatives, as well as pilots, flight attendants, and passengers, to test devices, and decide whether or not personal electronic devices interfere with flight controls or provide a safety concern. The group will deliberate for six months, and then present their findings to the FAA following their investigation.
The FAA is already looking for public engagement and has launched a website to seek consumer opinion on matters ranging from whether or not it’s safe to use a device during take off, and whether or not there should be restrictions on flights.
Current FAA regulation prohibits the use of all personal electronic devices during flight, “with the exception of portable voice recorders, hearing aids, heart pacemakers, and electric shavers.” Flight attendants also have the ability to make a judgement call while aboard a flight to determine whether or not a device will cause “interference” with the plane.
I don’t know about you, but the last time I was on a flight, I saw at least half a dozen people sneaking text messages and using their cellphones in plain sight while the plane was taking off. Many already believe that cellphones and tablets do not interfere with flight instruments.
There was a time when wireless signals could interfere with electronic devices. An incoming call would often mess up a digital clock on my desk while I was in college, but that was a long time ago, and it has been awhile since I’ve seen anything remotely similar happen when making or receiving a phone call.
Hopefully this FAA task force gets to the bottom of this stuff once and for all.