We all know that airlines forbid passengers to use their electronic devices during takeoff and landing (claiming that these devices will interfere with radio controls and cause the plane to hurtle towards the earth and a gruesome death), but American Airlines has made a small concession in that pilots are now allowed to use iPads.
The idea is that iPads would replace bags full of manuals, papers and other reference material. Instead, all that space and weight would be replaced by Apple’s flagship tablet, putting all those things at the touch of a finger for pilots as they commence takeoff and landing. Les Dorr, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, says that the way is now clear for pilots to do what passengers were once told would result in a catastrophic disaster (as reported by AFP):
[quote]”American Airlines is the first major air carrier to get approval for operational use of the iPad as an electronic flight bag,” Dorr told AFP, adding that the authorization followed an evaluation period of around six months… “During that period they have to show that it doesn’t interfere with crew duties and especially that it does not interfere with the communication and navigation systems of the aircraft,” Dorr said.[/quote]
Apparently this poses no danger because the Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity of the iPad would be turned off (in what we call — say it with me — “Airplane Mode”). No word, however, about whether this courtesy would be extended to passengers who put their devices into a similar radio-dark state. It’ll make for interesting debate, to be sure, as few passengers are going to enjoy being told they can’t turn their iPads on during takeoff (even in Airplane Mode) while pilots are up front playing Angry Birds.