F.A.A. hopes to relax rules on fliers’ use of iPads, other electronic devices during takeoff and landing by year end

“If you’re sitting on a plane at the gate and reading this column on an electronic gadget, you’re about to hear eight dreaded words: ‘Please power down your electronic devices for takeoff,'” Nick Bilton reports for The New York Times. “But this time next year, you might hear something very different: ‘Please put your devices on ‘airplane mode’ for takeoff.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Cue the ignorati chorus: “Airplane mode? Huh? Hey, how do I do this ‘airplane mode’ thing?” They’re going to have to make “how to” tech demonstrations part of the flight attendants’ safety spiel.

“According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing,” Bilton reports. “The change would not include cellphones.”

MacDailyNews Take: Even though, of course, an iPhone in Airplane Mode is not a cellphone. (Just tell your stewardess it’s an iPod touch and wave her off.)

Bilton reports, “One member of the group and an official of the F.A.A., both of whom asked for anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about internal discussions, said the agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot. As I wrote in 2011, travelers are told to turn off their iPads and Kindles for takeoff and landing, yet there is no proof that these devices affect a plane’s avionics. To add to the confusion, the F.A.A. permits passengers to use electric razors and audio recorders during all phases of flight, even though those give off more electronic emissions than reading tablets.”

“The issue is only increasing in importance as more Americans board flights with wearable computers,” Bilton reports. “People are flying with electronics like the Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up and FitBit, all of which track your daily activity. But before long, there will be passengers with Google glasses and an Apple iWatch.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The expeditiousness of government is matched only by molasses flowing uphill.

As we wrote back in March: It’s a load-of-crap rule, as anyone who’s ever flown knows. On any given flight, multiple people with iOS and other devices never turn them off (likely, some of these people don’t even know how to really turn their devices off) or never even put them to sleep. They certainly don’t put them into “Airplane Mode,” either. Their Wi-Fi is on all flight long and most of the time there are at least three personal hotspots bouncing all throughout the plane, too. The fact is – we see it almost every flight – some people simply hide them from the flight attendants and continue to use them during takeoff and/or landing and, guess what, we’re still here.

Related articles:
American Airlines first commercial carrier with FAA approval to use Apple iPads in all phases of flight – September 11, 2012
FAA to study use of iPads, iPhone on airplanes during entire flight – August 28, 2012
F.A.A. taking ‘fresh look’ at passenger use of iPad, devices use during takeoff and landing – March 19, 2012


  1. The U.S. government can ram through a horribly flawed, fiscally unsound. job-killing (and, soon, people-killing) “healthcare” bill in under a year, but for years they can’t decide whether to let you read your iPad during takeoff even though the pilots have at least two iPads on at all times – in the cockpit, no less.

    1. Congratulations on conflating BS faux-conservative talking points with thought. Let’s see if Ic an do it, too.

      NASA can ram through a simulated moon landing on a sound stage in Nevada, but the FAA can’t understand iPads and leave me alone to hide in the dark when a plane takes off or lands.

      Yup, I can follow your lead. Just not as entertainingly…

  2. Exactly …… as it was once said, if terrorists could simply crash a plane by turning on their cell phones, we would not be flying anymore. The electronics on planes are fully shielded, which is why lightening strikes do not doom an aircraft. Further, as stated, people leave cell phones on all the time in their pocket. The rule is ridiculous. Its a CYA rule in the event anything is remotely tied to an electrical device brought on by a passenger. FAA can say … “well we stated per our policy no devices of that type “. Useless.

    1. If something as simple as a cellphone can cause a plane to crash then you’ve got bigger issues. This policy is asinine. And, as people are now noting, the pilots themselves are using iPads in the cockpit – in the closest proximity to those poor, sensitive instruments.

  3. While the aircraft crew may say that your iPad will interfere with cockpit instruments, what is really up is that during takeoff and landings, you are in your greatest danger of a crash. Many things are happening at once and the ground is at its closest.

    You should have your hands and lap free to get out of your seat as soon as possible after the crash. Also, imagine the metal flying objects in the plane if everyone is using their Apple products and the plane suddenly hits the ground.

    iPad trama could be nasty.

    Just a thought,

    1. Air ‘hostesses’ need your attention to tell you what to do in the event of a take-off or landing mishap and our electronic devices are distracting us. In the event of an incident, we need to be able to follow instructions and not be fiddling with those devices.

    2. Good point, but the chances of this are exceedingly remote. To the point that someone can work for an airline and fly almost daily for decades and retire without a very high probability of a crash occurring in thousands of flights.

  4. To as they say “provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot.” is quite simple. Simply take a few planes and equip them with monitoring videos. When the “flight safety” rules are either shown by the staff and/or the video see how many of them are paying attention or doing something else, specifically reading another “magazine” instead of the hand out.

    Taking off and landing are the spots where plane accidents happen. Focusing on safety at that time is essential and that means going over the safety material and the best time to do that is at take off.

    There might not be a “technical” reason to relax rules on use of electronics, but there is a social one.

  5. All of the reasons given for banning electronic devises during a flight is BS. As many have said the electronic interfere is minor to non existent. Some people say it is because flight crews want people to pay attention during announcements which is another load of crap. If that were true passengers would be told to turn off cd players, PSPs, Nintendo DSs and MP3s, put their books, magazines or news papers down. Only a small number of devices are targets so that argument doesn’t make sense.
    Some mention the problem of devices becoming lose and becoming projectiles while this may be true people will have much bigger concerns than a rouge iPad or iPhone flying around the cabin. No need to worry about any rogue Samsung products flying around as there are few frequent travelers who use them and also if they hit a person they will simple break on impact.

    1. “No need to worry about any rogue Samsung products flying around as there are few frequent travelers who use them and also if they hit a person they will simple break on impact.”

      hahahahahaha. I loved this post. Thanks!

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