by HALEY MILLAN Editor-in-chief
Recommendations sent to the Federal Aviation Administration suggest that the administration should allow the use of portable electronic devices throughout flights. This would mean that passengers can use their devices throughout taxiing, takeoff, and landing.
Policies for electronics on airplanes were reviewed last week by a 28-member panel, which was set up last year. They recommended that the FAA change the rule on the use of electronics on flights. However, this does not include cellphone calls. Devices will most likely have to be put on “airplane mode” during the flight, but will not have to be completely powered down.
The panel argued that there is insufficient evidence that portable electronics can interfere with an aircraft’s avionics and cause problems. Chairman of the technical subcommittee of the FAA working group, Paul Misener, said that the devices of today barely produce external electricity. He also said the opportunity for interference is tiny, and that aircrafts do not have have avionics that operate on the same band as portable electronics.
Senior Viki Daninska says, “It would be so much more convenient if we don’t have to shut everything off on the plane. Whenever I go on long flights, I like to be entertained the whole time. Now, hopefully, I won’t have to wait a while to turn my iPod back on.”
It seems as though this rule was put in place solely based on caution, and not because of any real evidence. Back in 2011, Nick Bilton, a journalist from the New York Times, questioned the rule. When he spoke to a spokesman of the FAA, it was still not clear as to why the rule was put in place.
After writing a column titled “Fliers Must Turn Off Devices, but It’s Not Clear Why”, thousands of people responded with the same confusion as him. This set in motion the reform of rules regarding electronic devices.
Since then, experiments have taken place to test the theory that the electronics could interfere with the plane. Those experimenting were not able to find any interference coming from electronics.
“I never understood why we were supposed to shut off our phones and other electronics. It just never made sense to me that something that small could bring down an entire plane, and I guess now other people are finally started to doubt the same thing,” says senior Lisa Sowinski.
However, because of the government shutdown, the recommendation remains in limbo. Non-essential staff members of the FAA are furloughed, so no decision can be made. The FAA will not release the committee’s report, nor respond to the recommendations until the government officially reopens.
Prior to the government shutdown, there was hope that the new guidelines would be implemented sometime next year. Although, some believe that there may not be a constrained time frame and that there is pressure to act quickly, due to the fact that the rule is outdated.
Do you think there should be restrictions on electronic devices during flights?