US senator vows to fight in-flight device use ban
Many of us are flying to visit loved ones this holiday season, with our arsenal of electronic devices—iPads, cell phones, laptops—in tow. As a standard part of the safety briefing before takeoff, our trusty flight attendants will inform us that some of those devices can’t be used while a jet is airborne.
But that may soon change, at least if a US senator from Missouri has anything to say about it. Senator Claire McCaskill on Dec. 11 wrote Michael Huerta, acting administrator of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), demanding that he change the agency’s stance on the issue or face legislative action.
McCaskill, a Democrat, pointed out that airlines have begun allowing the use of tablet computers in the cockpit to cut down on paperwork and reduce dependence on printed instruction manuals for pilots.
“[T]he public is growing increasingly skeptical of prohibitions on the use of many electronic devices during the full duration of a flight, while at the same time using such devices in increasing numbers,” she wrote. “The fear of devices that operate on electricity is dated, at best. More importantly, such anachronistic policies undermine the public’s confidence in the FAA, thereby increasing the likelihood that rules of real consequence will be given too little respect.”
Up to now, the FAA’s official policy has been that the use of certain electronic devices can pose a danger to an aircraft in flight. As I wrote in a prior post, the use of cell phones is generally not allowed because of concerns that data transmission could disrupt a plane’s communication capabilities.
The senator said that she is “prepared to pursue legislative solutions should progress [toward overturning the ban on electronic devices] be made too slowly.”
Share your thoughts: Do you think prohibitions on the in-flight use of electronic devices are dated? Do you think Sen. McCaskill has a real chance of effecting change?
Luke can be reached at luke.jensen1981(at)gmail.com