The FAA May Finally Let You Use Your Laptop And/Or Tablet During Takeoff And Landing

The FAA’s rules on electronic devices on airplanes are, for lack of a better word, stupid. They belong in the dustbin of history next to people arguing that driving forty miles per hour was impossible because your face would peel off. And it might begin going away, FINALLY, as soon as this year.

The New York Times has the less-than-surprising story:

One member of the group and an official of the F.A.A., both of whom asked for anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about internal discussions, said the agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot.

To cut the FAA some slack, this rule was put on the books because of a rather reasonable standing policy of “Better safe than sorry.” There’s been very little scientific research to demonstrate what effect, if any, tablets and laptops may have on avionics devices, but the idea that they might have an effect in the first place tends to make the agency decide that, yeah, maybe it’s stupid and stuff, but potentially risking a few hundred lives so you can play Temple Run is not cool. That said, finding the policy annoying is both sane and reasonable, and thus the FAA will likely begin loosening the rules.

The good and/or bad news, depending on how you feel about overhearing other people’s conversations, is that cell phones are still banned. To change that law, you need to go through the FCC.

Maybe let’s leave that one alone.