This afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it will be taking a look at the rules on using portable electronic devices during flights.
It’s about time.
It strikes me as silly that I can read a book at take-off, but if the book has been downloaded to an e-reader or tablet, then I have to wait until we’ve reached 10,000 feet or some arbitrary cut-off determined by the government or the airlines. Reading is reading and it shouldn’t make a difference whether I bought a book or newspaper at Hudson News or downloaded the same content while waiting to board my flight. And since most hardback books are heavier than an e-reader, please don’t tell me that this is a “safety issue.”
The bottom line is that this has always struck me as an antiquated rule that no one could explain, especially since there are several airlines that offer tablets for their pilots. In the Air Force, our fighter pilots may soon be wearing tablets to provide them with real-time information!
As CTIA’s general counsel also noted in a recent NYT story, there was a study that was conducted more than 10 years ago that found there was no interference from mobile devices. Six years ago, one of my favorite TV shows, MythBusters, proved that cellphones don’t cause interference problems during flights. We can also look at other countries that have already allowed cellphones on airplanes.
Now whether consumers want to allow cellphone conversations on airplanes is another story, but the market should decide that, not the government. In the meantime, it’s time for these other restrictions to fall. The use of portable electronic devices while on a flight – the whole flight – should absolutely be allowed.