Millions of Americans who get on planes hear the admonition: “Please power down your electronic devices for takeoff.”
And absolutely everyone obeys. I know they do because no planes fell from the sky. No planes had to make an emergency landing because the avionics went haywire. We were all made safe because we all turned off all our Kindles, iPads, iPhones, BlackBerrys and laptops, just as the Federal Aviation Administration told us to. Realistically speaking, I’m going to bet that a handful of people on each flight could not be bothered, or forgot to comply.Yet, no crashes were ever attributed to people using technology on a plane. You get the point
Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn’t allow passengers to board a plane with an iPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists. Yet rules that are decades old persist without evidence to support the idea that someone reading an e-book or playing a video game during takeoff or landing is jeopardizing safety.
In recent studies, “There was no evidence saying these devices can’t interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can.” I’m not arguing that passengers should be allowed to make phone calls while the plane zooms up into the sky. But, why can’t I read my Kindle or iPad during takeoff and landing? E-readers and cellphones can be easily put into “Airplane Mode” which disables the device’s radio signals.
The government might be causing more unnecessary interference on planes by asking people to shut their devices down for take-off and landing and then giving them permission to restart all at the same time. According to electrical engineers, when the electronic device starts, electric current passes through every part of the gadget, including GPS, Wi-Fi, cellular radio and microprocessor.
It’s the equivalent of waking someone up with a dozen people yelling into bullhorns.
As more and more people transition from paper products to digital ones, maybe it’s time to change these rules.
Michael Altschul, senior vice president and legal counsel for CTIA, the wireless industry association, said a study that it conducted more than a decade ago found no interference from mobile devices.
“The fact is, the radio frequencies that are assigned for aviation use are separate from commercial use,” Mr. Altschul said. “Plus, the wiring and instruments for aircraft are shielded to protect them from interference from commercial wireless devices.”
Mr. Dorr reluctantly agreed. “There have never been any reported accidents from these kinds of devices on planes,” he said.
What do YOU think?
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