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FAA Taking Another Look At In-flight Use of Electronics Including Smartphones

BlackBerry Plane

I am not sure how I feel about this latest turn of events from the FAA in the US. The Federal Aviation Administration is creating a new cross government industry group to study if smartphones and other electronics will be safe to run during flights. This essentially could do away with flight mode though the FAA and carriers still seem firmly against in flight calls or VoIP. This new group will consider testing new standards for in-flight electronics use. That could include takeoff and landing along with cellular connections running in the sky though the FAA is still thinking it might distract passengers during safety presentations.

The FAA is actually kicking things of with a public request for comments for 60 days starting today. They are looking for companies to comment on the issues and possible rules and certifications possible for electronics and aircraft. All in all it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. If it is safe I don’t see the issue with cellular data being allowed since that does not really differ from Wi-Fi data on current planes. I am just glad they nixed in flight calling in the bud from the carriers.

via FAA (PDF) via CIO.com

5 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I was in Brazil a couple of weeks ago and TAM has in-flight phone calls available from your (smart)phone, and they’re not the only one’s in the world offering this service.
    Take-off and landing you had to be in flight mode, but very soon after take-off you could switch your phone back to normal use and it connected to an in-plane service.
    Modern airliners (I was on an A320 with TAM) are more than capable of handling the interference caused by cell phones, it all comes down to the aircraft’s wiring, and how well insulated it is.
    What also should be taken into account is that on EVERY flight, there’s at least one person (if not a few) who “forgets” to switch off their phones. No aircraft has come down because of it.

    Si.

  2. I’m quite happy they’re finally revisiting this topic. The problem is, as technology moves forward, more and more common things fall under the “electronic devices that must be turned off at the beginning and end of the flight.” Rules that started out as a minor inconvenience, and sometimes a negligible one for most passengers, have since become a major annoyance.

    Similar problems (where advancement and convergence cause “new” things to violate rules that “old” equivalents didn’t) seem to exist in many areas of slow-moving regulation… From gov’t/corporate security policies, to school/classroom rules, to religious customs, and so on. I wish I could come up with a term to describe this phenomenon.

  3. While I would enjoy the convenience of being able to talk on my phone while in flight and send pics, etc. Ultimately, I’m against the use of phones for one simple reason. People will abuse this. Holding all kinds of unethical, rude and annoying conversations. Not to mention not knowing how to have a private conversation. Think of all the annoying people that have full conversations in elevators or the bathroom. Might as well take a bus.

    Now if I was a bit more paranoid, I say that eventually someone will figure out a way to piggy back their smartphone onto the aircrafts system…and mayhem is bound to follow. That’s my conspiracy theory for the day.

    • Sorry, it’s not possible to “piggy back … onto the aircraft’s system”, they are stand alone systems; in that the only way to get access to any aircraft data is through a direct physical connection into the aircraft systems (which can only be done from the cockpit or the technical bay next to the cargo hold)… well except for the broadcasts that an aircraft will make to the carrier and manufacturer if there is a problem, but they are only outgoing.

      Si.

      • Simon, thanks for the heads up. I was more or less being silly about the “piggy back” part. Hence it being my conspiracy theory. Although, I tend not to rule anything out.

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