Good news, everyone! The FAA is about to let you use your doo-dad in the plane more often. Specifically, the Wall Street Journal reports, you’ll be able to use your device while the plane is taxing, taking off, landing and climbing to/descending from 10,000 feet. Currently, the use of electronics is not permitted during those maneuvers [1. Note that phone calls will still be verboten during those times.].
A lot of you think that the FAA has enforced periodic electronics lock-downs to force you to watch the safety information or just because it can. That’s really not true. As I reported a few weeks ago, there are some old planes in operation, and many of those use old equipment that can be affected by radio signals. Most planes run more modern equipment but many don’t. Rather than forcing the passengers and crew to make that determination on every flight, the FAA played it safe and made a blanket rule for all aircraft. A United Airlines pilot explains:
“Some older aircraft do have extremely old school radios. Some do not even have GPS. So the FAA has decided two things:
Since it is too contradictory for passengers and flight attendants to discriminate what aircraft they are on, and what should be the corresponding announcement, the same one is used for all aircraft.
The FAA can not take time to test every new device as it’s released. In fact, such testing falls to near the bottom of its priority/to-do list.”
Now you know.