It seems like Alec Baldwin's Words with Friends fiasco may cause the FAA to change its mind on what you can do during takeoff and landing on an airplane. The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement this week (source link, PDF) that said it would be putting together a committee to look at the current in-flight usage of electronics and other devices. It also seems that revisions could be made to the policy as soon as this coming March.
Yes, we know, it never makes any sense why your device with no radios in it causes radio interference or that your smartphone on Airplane Mode "isn't good enough" and "must be turned completely off" (I've been told both of those things on recent trips this year). We know, that just like the LightSquared problem, certain radio frequencies are reserved for certain electronics, so your 3DS isn't going to send a signal to the plane that makes the pilot think he's 8,000 feet higher than he is. However, this is the government we are dealing with, and our President didn't have a laptop on his desk in the Oval Office until 2008.
For some more insight and to learn why the FAA might just be appeasing the masses with this committee, check after the break.
To be fair, the FAA did stand up for reasons as to why devices like this must be turned off during takeoff and landing procedures. They mentioned things like passengers not paying enough attention to the safety announcements during takeoff. I, for one, know that I am super excited to see how each flight attendant handles the unbuckling of the seat belt that connects to nothing on each and every aircraft I board. I will say, though, that it is very reassuring to know my bag of air may not actually fill full of air to sustain my life. At any rate, it's also valid that we simply do not want to hear people on their cell phones during the entire flight. We know some folk have a tendency to scream at their devices and at the person on the other end and I could only imagine how extreme the yelling would be with four jet engines in the background.
So while all of these things point to the committee making a change to at least allow the tablets and e-readers of the world to be used from 0 to 30,000 feet, it's also possible the FAA may just look at the case, laugh and go back to their BBS and Telnet activities. I say that because FAA spokesperson Les Dorr said this to the New York Times last year,
There was no evidence saying these devices can't interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can.
This was in reference to a study that was intended to actually discover that these devices can't interfere with a plane. So what's going to actually happen here? We're unsure as of right now. However if we're allowed to use any and all electronic devices in the near future, I know Richard Branson will be happy. Will you be? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.