ipad in plane

In 2011, the FAA green-lighted several commercial and charter airlines to replace their bulky, 50-page paper flight manuals with iPads. And last year, they expanded the rule to allow pilots to use their new tablets during all stages of flight.

So why in the world are passengers still required to power down their electronics before takeoff? No one really knows. And that’s why Senator Claire McCaskill says she’s putting together a bill that would, by law, remove this silly restriction…

Politico (via AppleInsider) reports:

“Frustrated with the slow process at the FAA, Sen. Claire McCaskill said Thursday she will write legislation to allow passengers to use electronic devices during all aspects of flight.

The proposed bill would not apply to cellphone use but would dramatically expand the use of iPads, other tablets, music players and other devices before, during and after flight.”

Last December, Senator McCaskill wrote a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, expressing her disappointment on the agency’s lack of commitment to reexamine its “extremely outdated” flight regulations. Here’s an excerpt from that letter:

“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 certainly has a point. Over the years, several questions have been raised regarding the reasoning behind the “turn off your electronics during takeoff and landing” rule. But to this day, there has yet to be a solid, scientific reason given.

For a long time it was believed that electronic devices, many of which do emit some sort of radio waves, could disrupt an airplane’s navigation system and other necessary flight equipment. That theory, though, has long-since been debunked.

So what’s the next step in eradicating this ridiculous rule? The FAA has commissioned a Rulemaking Committee to take a look at it, and they’re expected to deliver their findings this summer. But McCaskill says she’s still pushing for legislation.