Proposed bill would allow iPad use from takeoff to landing

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
A Missouri senator, impatient with slow progress by the Federal Aviation Administration, has taken it upon herself to address the use of electronic devices like Apple's iPad on airplanes, and she's putting together a bill that would allow passengers to use their devices from takeoff through to landing.

plane


Politico reported on Thursday that Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) had expressed concern over FAA Administrator Michael Huerta's "lack of direct engagement" on the issue of electronics use during takeoff and landing. Currently, airline passengers are required to power down portable electronics devices from the closing of cabin doors until ten minutes after takeoff. Likewise, passengers must turn off their devices prior to the plane's landing and are not supposed to restart them until so advised by the flight crew.

In March of last year, the FAA announced that it would be taking a fresh look at the use of portable electronics on airplanes. The agency convened an Aviation Rulemaking Committee to address the issue, and that committee is expected to deliver its recommendations some time over the summer.

In a letter to Huerta, McCaskill expressed disappointment at the agency's pace in dealing with the matter.

"I am concerned," McCaskill wrote, "that relying on the ARC to drive change on this issue creates the potential for the process to drag on indefinitely. Many stakeholders have entrenched positions on this issue and have long resisted commonsense changes to the [portable electronic devices] rules... I was disappointed by the lack of commitment to the matter in your response.

Simply put, electronic devices that are currently allowed above 10,000 feet should be allowed for use during all phases of flight. It is preposterous to think that an e-reader in a passenger's hands during takeoff is anymore a threat to other passengers or crew members than a hardback book."

McCaskill's letter was in response to a previous reply from Huerta, dated February 12, 2013. In it, Huerta stated that the FAA was "still reviewing and evaluating the more detailed comments for the ARC," and asserted a six-month timeline before the ARC would present its recommendations to the FAA.

Speaking with Politico, McCaskill again expressed her disappointment with Huerta's response, saying that the next step for her would be "calling in the stakeholders ourselves and beginning to try to pull together the right legislation."

McCaskill says it's too early to tell what form any bill to address the impasse would take. The Missouri senator says she will continue to work with the FAA to resolve the impasse, but she reiterated that she wants more engagement from Huerta.

In 2011, the FAA authorized a number of commercial and charter airlines to replace 40-pound paper manuals with iPads. Late in 2012, American Airlines expanded its iPad Electronic Flight Bag program to allow 777 aircraft pilots to use the iPad during all phases of flight. The weight reduction enabled by switching to digital devices is estimated to have saved about $1.2 million per year on fuel costs.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 81
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Didn't Mythbusters, you know, bust that whole thing about half a decade ago? How none of this stuff actually affects anything in the plane?

  • Reply 2 of 81
    Is it really that much of a BURDEN on people not to use their devices during takeoff and landing that we need a LAW be written to address this (vs letting the FAA do their jobs)? Perhaps we need another government body to start taking actions on things that our Senators aren't working out quickly enough???
  • Reply 3 of 81
    I hate it when supposed leaders do not take safety seriously.

    Mythbusters only did their experiments on more modern aircraft. They didn't do any testing on any of our older fleet aircraft nor private fleet aircraft. (Mythbusters: Aren't these the same guys who sent a cannonball over a hill and through some kid's bedroom, then down a residential street, because they 'miscalculated?' I would not say they're methodology is trustworthy.)

    All passenger aircraft in use today (in the USA) are protected from (most) electronic interference from outside the aircraft, but only recently (past 20-30 yrs) have they been protected from internal interference, especially of the radio broadcasting type (WiFi, bluetooth, cell phone, etc) which have no certification NOT to cause interference problems from within an aircraft; though they must meet certain other interference requirements.

    Until each individual aircraft has been tested FROM WITHIN and determined to be resistant to EMF up to a certain level (greater than any proposed consumer electronic transmit schedule, then I will turn off any and all my devices as the aircrews order -- because it is the AIRCREW that is tasked with my safety, and it will be on them if the aircraft goes down, not some know-nothing congressperson who is being 'inconvenienced.'

  • Reply 4 of 81
    Common sense really should be the factor here. The most dangerous parts of flight are landing and take off. While electronic devices are "light" what happens when they leave the hands of the owner during turbulence while landing and smacks someone in the eye or mouth. Who then gets to be sued - the airline, the owner, the FAA? Yes, electronic interference is mostly bunk, but the potential for injury is higher in an already over litigious society.
  • Reply 5 of 81
    focherfocher Posts: 681member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post



    Is it really that much of a BURDEN on people not to use their devices during takeoff and landing that we need a LAW be written to address this (vs letting the FAA do their jobs)? Perhaps we need another government body to start taking actions on things that our Senators aren't working out quickly enough???


    This view is so wrong-headed. I'm hardly anti-government regulation, but what you suggest is a default position that places the burden on those being regulated on justifying why the behavior shouldn't be regulated. It's the exact opposite. There has been not a single study - scientific or otherwise - justifying the FAA's rules. Rules which are not even applied consistently by airlines (hence the "airplane mode isn't enough, you need to turn the device fully off" from some airlines).


     


    The standard of government regulation isn't "burden on the activity or person". It's necessity of the regulation. When there are regulations which simply violate common sense, like this one, then it just reinforces the anti-regulation attitude many Americans have.


     


    Personally, this is exactly the kind of issue I like to see Senators take up as democratically elected representatives.

  • Reply 6 of 81
    blah64blah64 Posts: 986member






    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Didn't Mythbusters, you know, bust that whole thing about half a decade ago? How none of this stuff actually affects anything in the plane?



     


    Yes, and I can confirm from an "insider engineer" as well, that standard devices are not a problem.


     


    But here's something to consider.  Perhaps these rules are considering the fact that there are (no surprise) a lot of really nasty people in the world that would love to take down a few more of our jetliners.  Using a heavily modified device (or more likely merely using a laptop case as a shell) that contains a high-powered transmitter with some on-screen controls to look like a game or something innocuous, could this be trouble?  I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me, and I doubt the $8/hour x-ray "techs" would be able to tell the difference, as long as a laptop could boot.  That said, I think if someone had such a device it could be 90% effective at altitude, not just takeoff/landing, but again, this is speculation.


     


    At the end of the day though, TheUnfettereredMind has it right:


     


    Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post



    Is it really that much of a BURDEN on people not to use their devices during takeoff and landing that we need a LAW be written to address this (vs letting the FAA do their jobs)? Perhaps we need another government body to start taking actions on things that our Senators aren't working out quickly enough???


     


    This ^ ^ ^ ^.


     


    Who is so goddam important that they can't stop texting and checking emails for 10 fucking minutes?!  To the point that we need to write a LAW to guarantee their unfettered access?  Just as ridiculous, if not more so, than the rules themselves.

  • Reply 7 of 81
    focherfocher Posts: 681member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nacymex View Post



    Common sense really should be the factor here. The most dangerous parts of flight are landing and take off. While electronic devices are "light" what happens when they leave the hands of the owner during turbulence while landing and smacks someone in the eye or mouth. Who then gets to be sued - the airline, the owner, the FAA? Yes, electronic interference is mostly bunk, but the potential for injury is higher in an already over litigious society.


    Way to change the reality. Nothing in today's regulation has anything to do with what you just said. I guess what you really think we should have is a "no objects of any kind in a passenger's hands." Not at all relevant, but bravo to you to be so disconnected from the subject matter.

  • Reply 8 of 81
    focherfocher Posts: 681member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blah64 View Post


    But here's something to consider.  Perhaps these rules are considering the fact that there are (no surprise) a lot of really nasty people in the world that would love to take down a few more of our jetliners.  Using a heavily modified device (or more likely merely using a laptop case as a shell) that contains a high-powered transmitter with some on-screen controls to look like a game or something innocuous, could this be trouble?  I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me, and I doubt the $8/hour x-ray "techs" would be able to tell the difference, as long as a laptop could boot.  That said, I think if someone had such a device it could be 90% effective at altitude, not just takeoff/landing, but again, this is speculation.


     


    ....


     


    Who is so goddam important that they can't stop texting and checking emails for 10 fucking minutes?!  To the point that we need to write a LAW to guarantee their unfettered access?  Just as ridiculous, if not more so, than the rules themselves.



     


    Nothing with this regulation or security addresses what you bring up as a concern. NOTHING. The current policy doesn't address terrorist attacks in any way. If someone did have such a modified device which actually could do what you suggest, they're going to use it regardless of the current rules. It's about as silly as making a regulation that forbids igniting things only during takeoff and landing because this will somehow prevent the detonation of a bomb during that period.


     


    As for personal burdens, I sure hope people reject such a premise that the burden of a regulation is the new standard for whether to have the regulation. I would hope more people prefer that the regulation serves a valid purpose.

  • Reply 9 of 81
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Didn't Mythbusters, you know, bust that whole thing about half a decade ago? How none of this stuff actually affects anything in the plane?

    Don't confuse "we couldn't get it to affect anything with "it's impossible to affect anything." When it comes to carting hundreds of people in a thin, gravity defying cylindrical tube it's better to err on the side of caution. Remember that improbable does not mean impossible.
  • Reply 10 of 81
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    blah64 wrote: »
    Didn't Mythbusters, you know, bust that whole thing about half a decade ago? How none of this stuff actually affects anything in the plane?
    Is it really that much of a BURDEN on people not to use their devices during takeoff and landing that we need a LAW be written to address this (vs letting the FAA do their jobs)? Perhaps we need another government body to start taking actions on things that our Senators aren't working out quickly enough???

    This ^ ^ ^ ^.

    Who is so goddam important that they can't stop texting and checking emails for 10 fucking minutes?!  To the point that we need to write a LAW to guarantee their unfettered access?  Just as ridiculous, if not more so, than the rules themselves.

    I believe the nasty people will not be deterred by the current rules. If a modified device like you describe is on the plane, game over. They could easily trigger it without anyone knowing...

    To your other point, I would rather get hit in the head by an iPad than a 1000 page book...

    P.S. quoting in the iPad interface appears to be a bit of a mess. Obviously it did not actually quote the message I responded to...
  • Reply 11 of 81


    Whether it's a burden or not is beside the point. This stuff has absolutely no effect on airplane safety. The rule is useless.


     


    It's an arbitrary rule, with no scientific basis, which causes added inconvenience to flyers. There have been enough restrictions imposed since 911 which in no way provide any increased security. The requirement to take off ones shoes to go through security is another perfect example of this type of stupidity.


     


    Get rid of it now.


     


     


    They could also pass a rule which forbids speaking during takeoff. That way, the ATSB, the CIA and Homeland Security could call in a drone strike to take out the offenders.


     

  • Reply 12 of 81
    It's about bloody time for this regulation to be retired. It serves no purpose. If the airlines want to impart a policy of non-use during take-off and landing due to safety concerns, they should be allowed to do so. However, this has no place or purpose as law.
  • Reply 13 of 81
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gunner1954 View Post



    I hate it when supposed leaders do not take safety seriously.



    Mythbusters only did their experiments on more modern aircraft. They didn't do any testing on any of our older fleet aircraft nor private fleet aircraft. (Mythbusters: Aren't these the same guys who sent a cannonball over a hill and through some kid's bedroom, then down a residential street, because they 'miscalculated?' I would not say they're methodology is trustworthy.)

     


     


    Really? They made one mistake in 10 years that didn't hurt anyone and that means their methodology is not trustworthy? A mistake involving an untested cannon and that was in fact caused not so much by a miscalculation as poor aim - the cannonball missed the water barrels that were the target and as a result had enough energy when it hit the banked earth mound behind the target bounced and continue on its way. 


     


    Have you had less than one accident involving anyone in your household in the past 10 years? Has the Airline industry had less than one incident in the last 10 years? 


     


    Regardless of whether you think the methodology used by the Mythbusters (not all of which makes it into the broadcast) the only two real criticisms that I think are valid are 1. the limited scope of aircraft equipment tested against and 2. all the tests were done on the ground on an incomplete aircraft rather than in the air in an intact aircraft. 

  • Reply 14 of 81
    Why bother having industry professionals and experts tasked with using their expertise when everything could simply be done by politicians?

    Try as they might, whims and "common sense" don't beat science and reason.


  • Reply 15 of 81
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member


    The whole point of stowing gear, not just electronic, is to protect people during take offs and landings if something should go wrong.   The policy could certainly be justified simply becaipuse of this issue.  


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Wovel View Post





    I believe the nasty people will not be deterred by the current rules. If a modified device like you describe is on the plane, game over. They could easily trigger it without anyone knowing...



    To your other point, I would rather get hit in the head by an iPad than a 1000 page book...



    P.S. quoting in the iPad interface appears to be a bit of a mess. Obviously it did not actually quote the message I responded to...


    This is a really big regression as far as forum software goes!    Frankly Appleinsider sucks as far as the forums go after this so called upgrade.   Quoting doesn't work right.   Trying to insert text into the middle of quoted text is a real pain and in general way to much overhead to do simple things.  


     


    Basically the new forums software is a waste of time and certainly not worth the time, money and effort to implement.   Forums should be simple to use from the forum participants standpoint.   The new software just sucks!   

  • Reply 16 of 81
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gunner1954 View Post



    I hate it when supposed leaders do not take safety seriously.



    Mythbusters only did their experiments on more modern aircraft. They didn't do any testing on any of our older fleet aircraft nor private fleet aircraft. (Mythbusters: Aren't these the same guys who sent a cannonball over a hill and through some kid's bedroom, then down a residential street, because they 'miscalculated?' I would not say they're methodology is trustworthy.)


     


    So restrict it by law to only commercial aircraft of X age or newer with Y configuration. And on the paying attention front make it still a law that at any time the flight crew feels that use of anything would be a distraction during a key safety time whether book, toy or whatever they can order passengers to put it away and passengers must comply. But only if the crew feels it is a safety issue whereany distractions   could be hazardous or even deadly and it has to everything. Or the right to make a passenger out away something that is a nuisance to other passengers. Like if some dirtbag is blasting music off his iPad cause he refuses to wear headphones. 

  • Reply 17 of 81

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by focher View Post

     


    There has been not a single study - scientific or otherwise - justifying the FAA's rules. Rules which are not even applied consistently by airlines (hence the "airplane mode isn't enough, you need to turn the device fully off" from some airlines).



     


    Nor has there been a single study, scientific or otherwise, justifying the FAA's rule that two pilots must fly commercial passenger airliners.  In fact, there have been several cases recently (JetBlue crazy pilot, etc) where it has been proven that a single pilot can safely fly the airplane.  


     


    Nor has there been a single study, scientific or otherwise, justifying the FAA's rule that C4 explosives without the detonators be banned from my carry-on.  There hasn't been a single case where C4 has exploded onboard an airliner without a detonator being present.


     


    This rule making by so-called "aviation experts" without having any justification what-so-ever is really getting out of hand.  Senators probably spend a lot more time flying than these FAA rulemaking bodies, so they're probably better informed than these FAA flunkies.


     


    /SARCASM OFF.

  • Reply 18 of 81
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Didn't Mythbusters, you know, bust that whole thing about half a decade ago? How none of this stuff actually affects anything in the plane?





    Ooo, let me see, would I put my life in the hands of the mythbusters or qualified members of the IEEE.  Gee, that's a tough one.


     


     


    Quote:


    In March 2004, acting on a number of reports from general aviation pilots that Samsung SPH-N300 cellphones had caused their GPS receivers to lose satellite lock, NASA issued a technical memorandum that described emissions from this popular phone. It reported that there were emissions in the GPS band capable of causing interference. Disturbingly, though, they were low enough to comply with FCC emissions standards.


    Our data and the NASA studies suggest to us that there is a clear and present danger: cellphones can render GPS instrument useless for landings. Clearly, the cause of the problem is that the FCC issues RF emission standards for consumer electronics, conferring only minimally with the FAA and with no formal consideration of the implications of those standards for the aircraft environment. For its part, the FAA relies on the airlines to initiate safety plans and, like other government agencies, defers to the FCC on questions of electromagnetic radiation.


    Have cellphones caused accidents? We cannot be sure they have, but the data support the belief that they may have. Without any direct record of the RF environment in a plane at the time of its crash, it is difficult to see how one could definitively attribute a crash to PED interference after the fact. This holds true even if investigators were to look for PED interference as the primary cause of the accident, which, typically, they do not.


    For this reason, we conducted two statistical analyses. First, we examined 385 commercial aircraft accidents for the period 1990 to 1999, to set an upper limit on the proportion of crashes in which interference from PEDs might have played a role. If PEDs had contributed to any accidents, they did not play a role in any more than about 6.5 percent of them.


    Next, we studied the Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), a database to which aircrews and others can submit anonymous reports on safety problems they observe. For many years, NASA has maintained this database. To ensure confidentiality, NASA removes identifying information from the reports, a time-consuming and costly task. NASA can afford to enter only about 15 to 20 percent of the received safety reports into the database. Until budget cuts ended the practice in 2001, NASA included a random sample of incidents drawn from across all reports, and it was this sample that we used in our analysis.


    All in all, we found 125 entries in the ASRS database that reported PED interference. Of these, 77 were considered highly correlated, based on the description of observed PED use and interference occurrence. The reports included cases of critical aircraft systems such as navigation and throttle settings being affected. Based on the random sample entries from 1995 to 2001, we estimate that the average number of reported interference events might be as high as 23 per year. There is considerable uncertainty about how many incidents actually occur in a year; a number of factors could make the number higher--or even lower--than the estimate of 23. Some reported incidents have not been entered into the database, and some of the reported incidents may not be interference events (that is, they might be false positives). But the data certainly suggest that PED interference events occur a few times each month.


    In one telling incident, a flight crew stated that a 30-degree navigation error was immediately corrected after a passenger turned off a DVD player and that the error reoccurred when the curious crew asked the passenger to switch the player on again. Game electronics and laptops were the culprits in other reports in which the crew verified in the same way that a particular PED caused erratic navigation indications.


    So what about accidents? We can extrapolate by looking at the existence of interference. Beginning in the 1930s, industrial safety pioneer H.W. Heinrich found--across many industries--that the ratio of incidents to accidents is about 300 to 1. Since then, this ratio has been approximately confirmed in a number of studies, including ones by the U.S. Air Force in the early 1970s. If this ratio holds true for the aviation industry, then we would expect PED interference to be a factor in an accident about once every 12 years, if we use the upper boundary for reporting that we described previously. If cellphone use increases dramatically with new regulations, we can expect the risk to rise correspondingly.


     


    About the Authors


    Bill Strauss is an expert in aircraft electromagnetic compatibility at the Naval Air Warfare Center and is the technical activities committee chairman for the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society. He recently completed his Ph.D. on this topic in the department of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. M. Granger Morgan (IEEE Fellow) is head of Carnegie Mellon's department of engineering and public policy and a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering. JAY APT is a distinguished service professor in the department of engineering and public policy and a research professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon. He is an active pilot and former NASA astronaut. Daniel D. Stancil (IEEE Fellow) is a professor in Carnegie Mellon's department of electrical and computer engineering.





    http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/unsafe-at-any-airspeed/0

  • Reply 19 of 81
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member


    I always keep my devices on, and I totally disregard this BS rule as I refuse to abide by it. Not a single plane has crashed yet on any flight that I've been on, though one did have to make an emergency landing, but that was before iPads even existed.


     


    There are far greater safety issues that are totally disregarded, and they should fix those instead of telling me to turn off my iPad. The incompetent screeners can't even stop people with bombs from getting through security. Worry about that instead, and don't tell me what to do with my iPad, because I will simply ignore it.

  • Reply 20 of 81
    mikeb85mikeb85 Posts: 506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nacymex View Post



    Common sense really should be the factor here. The most dangerous parts of flight are landing and take off. While electronic devices are "light" what happens when they leave the hands of the owner during turbulence while landing and smacks someone in the eye or mouth. Who then gets to be sued - the airline, the owner, the FAA? Yes, electronic interference is mostly bunk, but the potential for injury is higher in an already over litigious society.


     


    +1


     


    It's not about the electronic interference, but about loose objects (often made of aluminum and quite rigid) flying around the cabin...

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