FAA: iPad can fly, but iPhone remains grounded

By , Mar 25, 2013

MacBook on airplane

It took some arm-twisting and a bit of public mockery, but it appears the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is preparing to allow flying consumers to use some electronics on planes.

However, it may take longer for your iPhone to gain acceptance. The rule-change allowing use of electronic devices such as the iPad or Kindle during takeoffs and landings is expected to be announced by the end of this year.

In July, an industry group which hard worked with the FAA on guidelines for electronic devices, is expected to unveil its findings, according to a weekend report…

“The agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot,” according to Nick Bilton, who writes for the New York Times’ “Bits” blog.

Bilton spoke with unidentified members of a working group which the FAA established in 2012. The group’s first meeting was held in January. Members include Kindle-maker Amazon, the Consumer Electronics Association, Boeing and other stake holders.

Along with deciding whether electronics interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft – a fear which has been thoroughly debunked – the industry working group also wanted to ensure that flight attendants are not made in-flight police over what device can or cannot be used.

The panel’s goals also included defining what so-called airplane mode on mobile devices actually means and that the guidelines are broad enough to cover future devices not yet envisioned.

airplane mode

Earlier this month, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri unveiled legislation that would let passengers use electronic devices (except cell phones) during takeoffs and landings.

McCaskill told the Times current FAA restrictions are “baseless and outdated.” She noted iPads are already used by the flight crews of passenger airlines, as well as by flight attendants.

So it’s OK to have iPads in the cockpit; it’s OK for flight attendants. Yet it’s not OK for the traveling public. A flying copy of ‘War and Peace’ is more dangerous than a Kindle.

Nailed it…

The FCC is also on the side of airline passengers, having issued a report in December of 2012, pushing for the FAA to allow “greater use of tablets, e-readers and other portable devices” in flight.

As the Times notes, the question of allowing electronic devices on flights is not going away.

Along with tablets and e-readers becoming common, there are a growing number of electronic devices – ranging from a Nike FuelBand to Apple’s expected iWatch smartwatch and Google’s Glass eyewear – that are constantly in use.

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  • http://twitter.com/rydogg23 Ryan

    Ok…….

  • http://twitter.com/S_Lacertosa Stefano

    Maybe I’m not putting much thought into this, but what is the FAA concerned about whilst using devices on a plane?

    • http://twitter.com/S_Lacertosa Stefano

      I get a thumb down, lmao someone’s bored

    • Jude Capili

      Are you asking about why the FAA concerned? It’s cause well they are the federal aviation administration. Or are you asking why the FAA is concerned? And that’s because certain devices emit signals that can throw the plane off balance. Fee free to search google for more details.

      • Kaptivator

        With all due respect Jude…I fly planes and have had no issue with my phone being on throughout the entire flight. I do not fly for an airline, however if the beat up plains that i fly for practice can manage to make it with my phone on and plugged into my headset for use..Its hard to imagine a more sophisticated airliner having trouble. The head set that I use for flight is a Telex Stratus 30XT which has a cell phone audio adapter cable built into the headset. I have used my cell while under ATF control while on the ground with full systems on waiting for clearance to taxi, while maneuvering to the runway, while taking off, while asking for clearance back into class B airspace to be routed to land and while taxing back to the hanger. All of this while communicating with ATC. Now my cellular signal does fade once i cross 2000 feet and that is just because I am too far above cell towers to get signal. I then turn on my music. Sorry for the long post, but its just to let people know that the FAA is full of crap. You wont be able to use your cell phone for voice calls at 30k because your signal is non existent above 1500-2000 ft. I fly in and out of class B airspace which is towered and heavily populated with commercial airlines on the ground and in the air. I have never seen a plane just fall out of the sky because of a cell phone emitting anything. I have been flying since 2002. Think about it…Why would they sell headsets with cellular and music capabilities if it would cause interference?

  • http://www.eraser.org B. Braun

    Can someone tell me the differace between an iPad with LTE and an iPhone 5 with LTE?

    • RarestName

      The iPad is, uhh… bigger.

      • http://www.eraser.org B. Braun

        Ha ha

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      they will still tell you to turn off you LTE and pay them to use their in plane WIFI..lololl

      • http://www.eraser.org B. Braun

        Yes. And there is a diffrent between an iPhone in flight mode with WIFI on and an iPad in flight mode with wifi on?!? WTF FAA?

      • Falk M.

        I’m amazed. Are you suggesting that you COULD actually get cell coverage in a flying plane?
        WTF man…

      • Ray V

        LTE won’t work at 30,000 feet I don’t think.

  • chjode

    The way cellphones are mentioned there, I assume they mean for calling, not that you couldn’t continue reading a book on your smartphone.

  • http://twitter.com/ghodagadi Ghodagadi

    Why the end of this year, why can’t they do this sooner? Is there comment period, I thought that was already over with, I know I provided my comments to the FAA. They should move faster, like the end of March or April or if they need to give the airlines time then possibly May.

  • Ernie Marin

    I just wonder how is it that after more than a 100 years of flights, they still haven’t developed a communication system that doesn’t rely on cellphone towers.

    • Jude Capili

      They probably already have… But to change it would be too strenuous of a change. We’ve already made cars that run on other things other then oil.. But do we use them? No. It’s cause people are still making money off it and trying to change it would be difficult.

    • iDon’tWantToShareMyDetails

      Its cheaper to ban all radio-electronic devices, rather then test them all, because if you say “We allow phone use during this flight” you should’ve checked every mobile phone in the world to make sure there’s no problems (there wouldn’t be, but they want to sell you more expensive connection).

      I would have to say though, that if a cell phone can cause problems in an Airplane, we should talk to the manufacturer (Boing, Airbus) rather than banning a small device.

  • http://twitter.com/solidsephiroth Sam Irizarry

    If phones are allowed, completely, I just hope passengers are mindful of other passengers when using their phones or electronic devices. I’m not interested in seating next to someone yapping away at someone on their phone/webcam (through plane wi-fi). Imagine you’re trying to read a book/eBook, play a game, enjoy an in-flight movie, while someone next to you is having a loud Skype session or wi-fi phone call with someone else.

    • Scott

      There isn’t much difference between them talking on their phone with someone or talking to another person sitting next to them. Either way if you are not involved in their conversation then it is annoy and distracting. So personnally I don’t care if they use thier phone or not. If I don’t want to talk to someone or hear someone on a plane I put headphones in and listen to some music or watch a movie while I am flying. If you don’t want to do that, then get some ear plugs to drown out some of the sound on the plane. Problem solved. Besides, if you are older then you probably still talk on the phone. If you are younger, you problem text, facebook, email, twitter, whatever your conversations so it wouldn’t be that bad.

  • fluffy7732

    Odds are that some people just plain forget to turn off their devices. Odds are that some people don’t turn off their devices purposely. And yet, planes are not falling out of the sky..