FAA: iPad can fly, but iPhone remains grounded

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McCaskill told the Times current FAA restrictions are “baseless and outdated.”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.