re: Will The FAA Relax Electronic Device Restrictions?
I am a Computer Scientist and as well hold both an Extra Class Amateur Radio License (N3GWG) and an FCC Commercial License.
Let us start out with a basic idea in electronics, every device with chips or a microprocessor can reasonably be considered both a transmitter and as well receiver. In other words, all computers, phones, etc..., are "RF emitters".
As an Amateur Radio Operator I am well aware that many times we are blamed for when a well made Amateur Radio (performing to specifications the FCC says it must meet with perfection) interferes with a neighbor's TV. Suffice it to say that in most cases this is due to the fact that TV fails to properly shield itself from receptivity of external signals it might otherwise hear. This lack of shielding, also means it is acting as a transmitter of RF energy also (try operating your laptop next to an FM radio that is on and listen to the noise it hears). Thus the concern that MaxAB is referencing is not really all that out of the realm of possibility.
Don't believe me? Next time you are in your car place your mobile phone next to your GPS or near your FM radio and have someone call it, or even place the phone next to an olde tube monitor, or perhaps even an LCD monitor in your home or office, and watch what happens when the cellular phone rings. This is basically what can happen on a plane, only you are talking about 200 cell phones not one.
Moreover, when you go higher up in the air (think of a helicopter), the higher up you are the more you see of a city, the same is true of radio frequency waves. This can turn out to be important as well in terms cellular phone towers. If you are at say 300 feet in the air it is conceivable that more than just 2 or 3 (the normal number of cell towers that hear your phone when driving) will hear your phone, possible 50 or that, and this can confuse the cellular phone towers and their system quite definitely.
I am by no means object to the FAA looking at how these rules can be modernized to allow for the usage of high technology devices in airplanes, but, it is worthy of notation that a real issue does exist, and that some of the aircraft in use today are quite aged and will not be as ready for new technology as we might otherwise presume. Now, this does not stop the FAA from saying "we are making a new rule concerning the inflight operation of electronics devices and their usage as it applies strictly to Boeing model XYZ aircraft only, because Boeing model XYZ aircraft has been designed to allow for this.", they certainly could do that too.
Very Respectfully Submitted,
Stuart B. Tener