FAA to scrap inflight gadget ban

2013-06-24 11:56
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United States - If you’ve scrambled to send that last SMS or happen to enjoy passing the time playing games on your smartphone or reading and catching up on your tablet device - then you’ll be pleased to know rules that ban inflight electronic device use are set to be relaxed.

The Wall Street Journal reports, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is finally going to allow passengers to use their devices during the take-off and landing process. Users will however be restricted from making cellular phone calls.

While it is good news all round, the FAA’s draft report on scrapping the ban on electronics usage under 10 000 feet might take a few months to be passed, with no clear timeline for it being put into action.

The FAA cautioned there will be months of testing to determine which aircraft models are most vulnerable to potential electromagnetic interference from electronic devices used by passengers – a potentially lengthy process that will include safety assessments, crew training, PR campaigns and coordination with foreign regulators.

Although some passengers haven’t been too fazed with whether it is dangerous or not. A recent Travelstart survey confirms that up to 15 passengers leave their phones on during any given flight.

The survey polled some 7 600 South African travellers, of which around 3% said they never turned their phones off during a flight, despite being asked to by cabin crew.

The Huffington Post reported earlier this year that a number of travel experts, including pilots and travel editors were in agreement - "This was a rule put in place at an earlier time when the science behind cellular communications was less understood."

One of the experts was commercial pilot and Executive Travel columnist Chris Cook who explained that he had never experienced any interference from mobile phones on flights he had piloted. This feedback was contrasted by a response to the same question on online Q&A site, Quora where chief pilot and flight instructor at The Flight Academy, John Fiscus reports having had cell phones interrupt his communications on several occasions.
These interruptions, he reports, are little more than buzzing noises on his headset meaning pilots can misunderstand instructions from control towers, rather than a complete communications black-out.
Either way, when a plane is about to land, any misunderstanding can be fatal.
According to an IATA (International Air Transport Association) report, there have been 75 documented reports since 2003 of “possible electronic interference” which crew believed to be attributed to devices like cell phones and tablets - which is why the testing process needs to take place.  

While you might not be able to enjoy this during your next flight, it certainly is a dramatic shift for the airline industry.

Read more on:    flights  |  travel international  |  aviation

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