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FAA Rethinking Electronics Ban for Take-Off and Landing

At some point in the future, you may be able to continue skimming your Kindle or playing Words with Friends when jetting off the runway, The New York Times reports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may be reconsidering its policy on use of electronic devices during take-off and landing.

Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the FAA, told the Times, “With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft.”

Currently, the FAA prohibits use of electronic devices during taxi, take-off and landing; this means iPads, laptops, iPods, ereaders, and basically anything that has buttons and batteries must be powered down. Additionally, use of wireless devices like cell phones is banned on all flights.

It’s all for our protection, of course.

The FAA says that signals from passengers’ personal electronics could interfere with navigation and communication systems on planes.

As of now, FAA rules permit airlines to conduct their own testing on the effects of electronic devices on planes. Carriers may permit use of devices in the air as long as they can prove that they won’t compromise safety. But the airlines havn’t bothered, as such tests require time and money.

Now, the FAA is stepping in, promising to take a second look at the ban. At this point, it looks like the FAA will conduct its own tests, possibly in conjunction with electronic manufacturers, the airlines, and other key groups.

In a statement to the AP, the FAA said that “no changes will be made until we are certain they will not impact safety and security.” So flyers should have nothing to fear.

After all, it’s been unclear from the get-go whether use of electronic devices during take-off and landing as well as use of cell phones in flight ever caused a legitimate threat.

No plane crashes have ever been blamed on passengers’ gadgets. A study by the Radio Techinical Commission for Aeronautics conducted in 2006 found that “there was no evidence saying these devices can’t interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can,” reports The New York Times.

So until futher studies happen, the airlines will stick with their better-safe-than-sorry approach.

What’s your opinion? Should passengers be allowed to use electronic devices during take-off and landing?

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