FAA to reconsider gadget ban

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Federal Aviation Administration is believed to be re-examining the rules which prohibit the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing.

According to the New York Times, the FAA plans to conduct tests to see  whether there's any danger of new devices affecting the operation of the plane.

However, the mandated test procedures are so thorough that there's real doubt as to whether devices could be approved before they're completely out of date.

Each and every individual device - different models of the iPad, for example - needs to be tested separately. There needs to be a dedicated flight for each device, with no other electronic devices on board, and no passengers. And the tests need to be carried out for every single model of plane.

As a result, it looks as if the FAA isn't even going to attempt to test mobile phones. Instead, it's going to concentrate on tablets and e-readers. Manufacturers will likely be expected to stump up the cost. It's possible that things could be simplified through a bit of coordination, with particular planes being made available for enough time for several devices to be tested.

There's some evidence that electromagnetic interference from cellphones and similar devices can cause problems with on-board systems. However, there's also quite a bit of evidence that it doesn't. And no accident has ever been blamed on the use of such devices.

The FAA last year approved the iPad for use in plane cockpits after testing it on 250 flights.