Turning off electronic devices in flight

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

My Kindle is not my first love, but it’s certainly up there in the top 10. On the recent trip to the Philippines I loaded it up with plenty to read, thinking smugly that it’s so much better than having to agonise over which “paper” novels to take when there’s only limited space and weight in the suit-case.

But there is one big difference, and that’s when you’re flying. You can read “paper” novels whenever you want in a plane. Kindle owners have to power down during take-offs and landings, and sometimes, particularly in Sydney, that can be quite a while without a book for e-book users.

But it looks like that’s finally coming to an end. The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has agreed that portable electronic devices (PEDs) don’t need to be powered off provided they are in “flight mode”. (Click here to read the report.)

Each US airline must undergo testing before the FAA will certify them, and some are likely to complete the testing before Christmas 2013.

So what does that mean for Australia? Looks like our Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is likely to follow suit, but there is no time-line yet.

Perhaps the most common question will be “Why has this taken so long?”

I think the answer is simply that authorities needed to get the science right. When safety is paramount, the burden of proof always lies with the airline industry to prove there is no problem. How would you like it the other way round? “Let’s fly planes with phones turned on to see if any fall out of the sky.”

On the other hand, you may think a plane full of people wanting to use their phones know more than the world’s aviation scientists. Either way, you’ll find this amusing…


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