🚗 🚙 Turn your trusty old car into trustworthy journalism Learn more

Possible new rules for your electronic devices in airplanes

Marc Sanchez Mar 19, 2012

Even before Alec Baldwin caused a stir and got thrown off his flight for not turning off his game of Words With Friends, New York Times reporter, Nick Bilton has been on a crusade.Bilton doesn’t get why the Federal Aviation Administration won’t allow electronic devices, like the Kindle or iPad, to remain on during take offs and landings. The F.A.A.’s rulebook suggests that such devices could interfere with sensitive in-flight instruments putting passengers at risk; however, Bilton has gone through great lengths to debunk this theory. Score one for the little guy, as Bilton reports today that the F.A.A. will review is policy on electronics. From his article: “The F.A.A., which in the past has essentially said, ‘No, because I said so,’ is going to explore testing e-readers, tablets and certain other gadgets on planes. The last time this testing was done was 2006, long before iPads and most e-readers existed. (The bad, or good, news: The F.A.A. doesn’t yet want to include the 150 million smartphones in this revision.).”

According to the F.A.A., the reason for not testing these devices sooner really comes down to money. Each e-reader and tablet has to be tested on an empty plane to verify that it doesn’t interfere with a plane’s instruments. That means that not only does the new iPad get a passenger-less flight to nowhere, but so does the iPad 2 and original iPad. Same goes for every version of the Kindle.
And here’s the big, big thing: every carrier would have to comply, so continues Bilton: “American, JetBlue, United, Air Wisconsin, etc., would have to do the same thing. (No wonder the F.A.A. is keeping smartphones off the table since there are easily several hundred different models on the market.).”

No changes for now, but if Bilton’s testing is vetted, you may soon be able to keep your power on.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.