Why Do We Have To Turn Off Electronics on Planes? No One Knows.


In 2010, no crashes were attributed to people using technology on a plane. None were in 2009. Or 2008, 2007 and so on. You get the point…

Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Securityand 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 aniPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists.

Nevertheless, Les Dorr, a spokesman for the F.A.A., said the agency would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to digital devices on planes.

He cited a 2006 study by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics, a nonprofit group that tests and reports on technical travel and communications issues. The group was asked by the F.A.A. to test the effects of cellphones, Wi-Fi and portable electronic devices on planes.

Its finding? “Insufficient information to support changing the policies,” Mr. Dorr said. “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.

I've…um….forgotten to turn my Kindle off during takeoff, or accidentally put my iPhone to sleep instead of powering it off. Life went on, we made it to the destination, and no one was the wiser. Maybe it's time for some collective action- Occupy Plane Seats?

Plus, Mythbusters already busted this one. Jeez.

*Update: *It gets stranger:

121.306 Portable electronic devices.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any U.S.-registered civil aircraft operating under this part.

(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to—

(1) Portable voice recorders;

(2) Hearing aids;

(3) Heart pacemakers;

(4) Electric shavers; or

(5) Any other portable electronic device that the part 119 certificate holder has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.

(c) The determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that part 119 certificate holder operating the particular device to be used.

So what this is saying is that you can’t operate any portable electronic device that the aircraft operator — the airline, in this case — says you can’t. (Read carefully; a is the rule and b is the loophole.) You can, however, always operate portable voice recorders, hearing aids, heart pacemakers (good thing!), and electric shavers (?).

Source: An Eclectic Mind

I don't buy any of the arguments for the electronics ban: books and magazines can be just as distracting, airplane mode is designed to block a device from transmitting signals, and if they really cared about this issue, they'd shield the !@#$ electronics on the plane or confiscate ours as we boarded.

The airlines don't have much going for them lately- higher prices, more fees, more delays, and all this TSA bullshit. Making the totally legal call (per 121.306) to allow electronics during takeoff and landing would be a free way to build some customer goodwill.