Will the FAA Finally Let You Keep Your iPad On During Flight Takeoff?


There's never been any good technical reason for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ban on leaving electronics on during airplane takeoff and landing, especially since it mostly ends up meaning that devices like Kindles and iPads end up staying on but out of view. But now Nick Bilton of The New York Times reports that the FAA has indicated it's reviewing the policy and might alter soon alter the rule:

On Monday morning I'm going to drive to the airport, check in for my flight to New York, then head to the airport bookstore for a stack of magazines to read on the plane. I'll do this reluctantly because I will carry both an Amazon Kindle and an Apple iPad packed full of reading material in my bag.

I need the paper products because Federal Aviation Administration rules state that I cannot use these digital reading devices on an airplane during taxi, take-off or landing.

But this rule might change soon.

When I called the F.A.A. last week to pester them about this regulation — citing experts and research that says these devices could not harm a plane — the F.A.A. responded differently than it usually does. Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the F.A.A., said that the agency has decided to take a "fresh look" at the use of personal electronics on planes.

Link via Julian Sanchez

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  1. The FAA might be admitting one of its central tenets of keeping you safe is false?


    1. Even the TSA hasn’t drunk the FAA’s KoolAid on this matter, and they sure aren’t shrinking violets when it comes to confiscating 3.5 ounces of water or patting down 3 year olds in wheel chairs.


  2. Many is the time I realized as the flight attendent was making the announcement to turn off all electronic devices that my cell phone and Blackberry both were still on, in my briefcase or jacket pocket, already stowed in the overhead bin while I was belted into the seat. So I couldn’t turn them off, because if I unbelted and stood up, the F/A would yell at me to sit down and belt up.

    So oh well, they remained on for the entire duration of the flight. Can’t count how many times this happened.

    It has yet to cause an airplane to fall out of the sky.

    1. I’d be willing to bet that there are several devices that are on during every single take-off and landing every single day in the US. If they posed any material danger, at least one plane would have crashed because of them by now.

      1. Yeah. Mine.

        Out of protest, I purposefully not only leave them turned on, but unabashedly USE them for music and I always try to see how long after takeoff I can still send text messages.

        I don’t even bother taking off the headphones anymore.


          I do like this. You remind me of me. 🙂

        2. I always have my digital camera in my hand during a flight. Always always always. Takeoff and landing is the best part.

  3. Excuse me sir I just needs to check inside ya assshole

    1. One of the best episodes. I don’t know how they keep it so good after so many years, but they do.

      And now, from the Chief of the TSA: “Sheeeeyit.”

  4. On Monday morning I’m going to drive to the airport, check in for my flight to New York, then head to the airport bookstore for a stack of magazines to read on the plane.

    A “stack” of magazines? How fast does this guy read? Or is the airport so congested that it will take 2 hours to get the plane from the gate to cruising altitude?

    I know the e-device ban is a pain and stupid, but is this guy incapable of occupying his mind for 30 – 45 minutes without something to distract him?

    1. This. The FAA rule is stupid, but being denied your iPad for a few min on takeoff is hardly the end of the world.

      1. So Aresen and mofo, I assume neither of you has ever uttered the phrase “slippery slope?” Or is it ok if it’s something that doesn’t bother you personally?

      2. -1 for bad relativism.

        Sorry, but the stupidity of the rule is way worse than any other stupidity.

    2. I usually bring an e-reader and a paperback. You never know when you might get stuck at a gate or they taxi you out and then announce your plane is 39th in line for take-off.

      I read to take my mind off of the screaming children, the fuckers that won’t stop yammering on, the choking fog of perfume and Axe body-douche, the guy determined to eat his–I can only guess by the odor–fermented yak brains in sewer sauce, and the blast of fetid air on my defenseless bald spot.

      1. I detest flying, mostly because of the interminable queuing, the hours of staring at the seat in front of me and sitting in a seat not designed for my 6’4″ frame for hours on end.

        I take as much entertainment, in as many different forms, as humanly possible. (You should have seen the look of the X-ray station good as he looked at my travel-pack stuffed with my phone, MP3 player, chargers, headphones, spare batteries, etc.) Of course, I got a tablet after I stopped flying to conferences regularly (job change). Never could really finagle using the laptop with the space available.

    3. Maybe he flies out of O’Hare a lot? More often than not when I do, it’s been a minimum 45 minute ground hold, occasionally longer.

      They still push back on time, of course.

      1. Probably flies out of LGA and/or JFK. Unless I’m on a 7:30 AM or earlier flight from LGA, you’re on the tarmac for 45 minutes minimum. And that’s best case if you’re just waiting in line. If there’s fog or rain, some mechanical issue or it’s a holiday, it can be a lot longer.

        1. Spent 6 hours once on the tarmac at LGA. I hate LGA.

          1. I took a shit in New York, once.

            1. He’s mayor now. Thanks a lot!

          2. LGA is barely better than O’Hare. O’Hare is cursed with the worst weather of any major airport. It seems like two-thirds of the flights out of O’Hare are delayed due to weather.

          3. I spent nine hours on a two hour flight to LGA once because of a slight drizzle in New York, and it landed at Dulles for fuel, then got delayed on the ground there by more weather.

            LGA is awesome when no one is there.

      2. Seriously? Yet another reason I fly out of Midway whenever possible.

  5. You should find out what plane you’ll be on, and get a set of blueprints to study during the flight.

    LULZ to follow.

    1. All of those drawings are on the internet. If you have a cellular telephone with internet, you can look up your plane’s registration number and find out which Delaware bank owns it and how many fatalities it has been involved in.…..light_1288

      1. I always go to to check out the accident and maintenance reports and then tell anyone Im trveling with just how many inflight engine failures it has suffered or how many cracks have been discovered during periodic major maintenance.

  6. Can somebody remind me why the fuck Federal Aviation Administration exists in the first place?

    1. Air traffic controllers do something useful. But I suppose they don’t need to work for the FAA.

      1. That’s my point. A shit-deep, unnecessary bureaucracy.

        1. Can you name one that isn’t?

          1. Don’t be such a hateful Rethuglicant monster. The Department of Education, of course! How the fuck do you expect the kids of this country to learn Lincoln’s role in planting the cherry tree and FDR’s restoration of American might post-WWII?

    2. Because without them, no pilot would avoid running into another plane.

      1. Would the Earth turn into War of the Worlds if we abolished the FAA?

        1. Yes, it would be worse than the Holocaust.

      2. That is the primary purpose of Air Traffic Control.

  7. Cell phones are an issue. Their default mode is to transmit a maximum power until a local cell tower tells then to dial back the transmit power.

    E-Readers shouldn’t be a problem.

    1. If that’s true, then why aren’t planes falling out of the sky all over the US? Because there is undoubtedly at least one cell phone on in every friggin plane in the air.

      1. See below

    2. That is an issue for cellular service, not a safety problem for aircraft.

      If cellular providers don’t like it, all they have to do is send violating users a bill and it will stop happening right quick. Fuck the FCC.

    3. This. There’s the transmit problem, and also because you’re in a plane at altitude and moving pretty fast, there’s a good chance your phone is going to try to talk to several different cell towers at once, and the system isn’t designed for that.

      The “messes with the airplane’s communications” thing is complete bullshit. You’d have to be a total idiot to design a wireless com system for aircraft that operates on the same frequencies as cellphones – and also the FCC wouldn’t allow it.

  8. Can somebody remind me why the fuck Federal Aviation Administration exists in the first place?

    Civilian air travel is an infant industry and without oversight, the airlines would kill all their passengers, just for their own kkkorporaty amusements.

    1. I bet all the airline owners are domestic terrorists just waiting for libertard horde to abolish the FAA so they can all crash their planes into noble, majestic federal buildings.

  9. Off topic, but doesn’t Doherty have anything (hump hump) on Ron Paul’s great showing in Puerto Rico? Latinos just love the guy.

    1. He does not have 500,000 words for that post yet.

    2. “Latinos just love the guy.”

      See? There goes the vapid progressive again, categorizing people by ethnicity.

      1) Although many of us sincerely hoped Paul would do better, nobody was pretending his nomination was likely.

      2) When Obama jams his cock into your mouth, does he pull out in time for you to breathe, or does he let you pass out before withdrawing?

  10. I have seen a compelling (to me) argument that cell phones are no real threat to the airplane, but they play havoc on the ground as they go zooming overhead jumping from tower to tower.

    1. Any commerical airliner built after 1990 or so should be completely immune to interference from cell phones. There aren’t that many really old aircraft left in service any more.

      But yes, cells phones moving at 500 mph do tend to cause the cellular infrastructure a few hiccups.

      1. No cell phones is an FCC regulation.

        1. I don’t care what kind of pseudo-scientific BS reason they come up with for banning them. CELL PHONE USE ON PLANES SHOULD BE BANNED, NOW AND FOREVER!

      2. Any commerical airliner built after 1990 or so should be is completely immune to interference from cell phones.

      3. Because aircraft com and cellphones operate at different frequency bands, the signals are orthogonal. Meaning you can have both signals in the air simultaneously without them interfering with each other.

        It’s math, bitches.

    2. What about me?

      1. I’m retired.

        1. Me to, and my friend DC-9.

          1. All of those classes are still in operation and cell phones have no effect on them.

  11. If the rule is unnecessary then they need to get rid of it. But on another point, this guy needs a whole stack of magazines for taxiing, take-offs and landings? Why do some people need to be stimulated every second of the day?

    1. You are missing this whole government nanny concept. If the rule is bad, an additional set of rules need to be added.

      1. Nanny Concept Rules:

        1) If the rule is bad, an additional set of rules need to be added.

        2) Make sure the rules you draft are are skull-fuckingly painful and inconvenient for your subjects as possible.

        1. *as

    2. If the rule is unnecessary then they need to get rid of it.

      The mere existence of a rule is proof that it is necessary.

      Why would someone have created it if it wasn’t necessary?

      Once a rule is created then it may be modified or extended, but to “get rid of it” is an insult to whoever went through the effort to create it.

      Would you want someone down the road to “get rid of” some rule that you work so hard to create?

      Didn’t think so.

      So extend the same courtesy to those who created rules before you.

      1. Megan McArdle is posting as sarcasmic at H&R during her break?

    3. Why do some people need to be stimulated every second of the day?

      Why do you care?

      1. we also would have accepted:

        “Fuck You, that’s why.”

  12. the F.A.A. responded differently than it usually does. … the agency has decided to take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes.

    IOW, you got punked.

  13. Cell-phone use should be banned on planes. I don’t care what bunk they come up with to justify this rule. It’s a good rule!

    1. Then after this rule is repealed, you should only fly on airlines that ban cell phone use on their planes.

  14. Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the F.A.A., said that the agency has decided to take a “fresh look” at the use of personal electronics on planes.

    Oh, so a deputy assistant to an administrator gave you a “non-committal committal” response. That’s totally the same as admitting their rules are stupid, and they will change them. =P

  15. deputy assistant administrator for public affairs for the F.A.A


    Spending has been cut to the bone and the fed gummit is understaffed, people!

  16. I have taken flights on commercial airliners approximately thirty or forty times. When do the attendants ever enforce this shit? They’re sitting and seatbelted during takeoff and landing. They can’t do shit.

    As for seatbelts, the only reason they are ever effective is on the ground, in case the velocity abruptly decreases or the plane rolls over a ditch, while your body continues at the initial velocity.

    1. Well, no, a while back the top of an airplane flying out of Honolulu peeled off, and some unbelted passengers got sucked out of the plane.

      But, the chance of the seatbelts saving your life is so minimal, you might as well go for comfort and leave them unbuckled except when the airplane is taking off or landing.

      1. Sever turbulance could throw you from your seat.

    2. If you really want the attendants to leave you one, fly international first/business class. Rules are for the little people.

    3. As for seatbelts, the only reason they are ever effective…

      You might want to also consider turbulence.

      Of course, seat belts won’t prevent you from being struck by somebody who wasn’t belted in, or their stuff. But they might keep you from flying about the cabin.

  17. Who cares? If you’re still flying I hope they cancel your bathroom privileges.

    The TSA thanks you for continuing to fly since avoiding that mode of transportation is the only real way of effecting change in their procedures.

  18. Inverse square law, the 3g/4g data transceiver in your e-reader going to full output power when it feels lonely, dozens of reports of presumed PED interference with flight controls, NASA and UK CAA studies saying that their tests with the power levels and frquencies used by PED’s causing occasional problems. I can see that caution on this issue may be appropriate. RF does funny stuff.

    1. RF does do funny stuff. However, assuming that the ‘receivers aren’t pieces of shit and they have the proper filters to only look at the frequency bands they’re transmitting/receiving at, then ever other wireless device should be operating on different frequency band, hence they’re mathematically can’t interfere with each other.

      It’s the FCC’s job to chop up the EM spectrum and make sure that can’t happen.

      1. If someone proposed the current Instrument Landing System today, I believe “pieces of shit” is exactly how most RF engineers would describe the receivers.
        I’m very happy to learn that “wireless devices operating on different frequency band mathematically can’t interfere”. That should make my work life much less stressful. When did this change?

  19. XKCD said it best: Anything that basically works on the honor system is not going to bring down a plane.

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