FCC chairman urges FAA to allow use of tablets during takeoff and landing

One of the great annoyances and confusions of flying is the ban on use of any and all portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet. While we're honestly perfectly fine with the use of cell phones being banned in such extended-period close quarters, devices like tablets, ereaders, and the like aren't really of great concern. I'll admit to having left my tablet and cell phone turned on (in airplane mode) during takeoff and landing, and the plane did not come crashing out of the sky, and there's little doubt that at least a few of your fellow passengers are doing the same on every flight.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski is now urging the Federal Aviaition Administration (FAA) to "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices" during all phases of flight, according to a report by The Hill. Genachowski's letter to acting FAA director Michael Huerta noted the economic benefits of these gadgets we use, though one has to question how much additional utility can be gained from working in the ~30 minutes between the gate and 10,000 feet (and in reverse when returning to the ground). Then again, extra time on the tablet is extra time on the tablet.

Genachowski pledged in the letter to work with the FAA, airlines, and device manufacturers on completing a review of the safety of these devices during the take-off and landing phases of flight. The FAA has been studying the question of gadgets during these phases for some time, stating in March that they were reconsidering the policy and forming a committee in August to study their current policies, though no recommendations have yet been made.

While we're all for extended gadget time during flights, we also want this to be done right. There are legitimate reasons behind the not-below-10,000-feet rule, and if the studies and committees determine that there's even a small chance that turning on that iPad could knock your plane out of the sky, then we'd rather people not be doing that. Airplanes are overengineered for a reason - just one mistake, one error, one failure can be seriously when you're with a hundred other people in a pressurized metal tube hurtling through the sky at five hundred miles per hour and thirty thousand feet over the ground. We'd all prefer that playing X-Plane on our iPad not be the cause of that failure.

Source: The Hill