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FAA Reconsiders Airplane Mobile Device Ban
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Rob Berra
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Rob Berra,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/5/2012 | 2:42:02 PM
re: FAA Reconsiders Airplane Mobile Device Ban
This is a case of "better safe than sorry." To my knowledge, there are no documented cases of cell phone use endangering aircraft, but it is difficult to test every possible scenario. The chance of a terrorist being able to actively interfere with an aircraft's operations sufficiently to cause a crash is very small, but if all of the millions of air travelers are using cell phones as they fly, the possibility of a confluence of circumstances causing a crash or other problems rises drastically.
By analogy, if I'm trying to shoot a 1-inch target from half a mile away, my chances are pretty bad, but if a million people are firing at the same target, *someone* is going to hit it. The FAA doesn't want anyone firing at that target.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/30/2012 | 12:00:12 AM
re: FAA Reconsiders Airplane Mobile Device Ban
Interesting that the FAA is spending the money for this study, but already announcing that they may not make policy changes based on the findings of it. Say what? You're going to spend taxpayer dollars and NOT do anything with it?

Moving on - the idea of banning the operation of all devices that have the capability of receiving or transmitting data is a good one. Although, that might make carriers like Virgin America and AirTran a bit unhappy since they're building out their fleet with wireless points and Internet connectivity. If the FAA rules not to allow Tx/Rx devices, they've just lost a revenue stream, a selling point and possibly some of their customers.

AirFone would be a different item all together - since that's a known, documented and tested system that's gone through a bunch of hoops prior to being installed as a fixed system on an aircraft. The FAA had to approve it before it could fly - the problem that they're wanting to address is the explosion of consumer-oriented mobile electronic devices and how well (or not so well) they adhere to FCC regulations regarding broadcasting interference, etc.

One could argue that this wouldn't even be an issue on an aircraft that wasn't equipped with fly-by-wire controls - once you remove the physical link between the cockpit and the control surfaces, you have to secure that system the best that you can to keep the aircraft safe.

There's a lot more at work here than simply inconveniencing passengers who want to find out just how bad some Hollywood starlet is in trouble or preventing you from listening to your classic radio programs on your fruit-flavored device.

That said, I'm glad that my old Mini-Disc player doesn't have Tx/Rx capability. :)

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
8/29/2012 | 5:00:14 PM
re: FAA Reconsiders Airplane Mobile Device Ban
I've always wondered why, if this such a vulnerability to airplanes, people can take them on board at all? If I'm a terrorist, why bother trying to sneak an explosive on the plane when I can just use my iPhone to crash the plane. Or even better, some high tech jamming type device. Doubtful TSA would have clue as you carried that right on board and then fired it up in flight.
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/28/2012 | 6:25:06 PM
re: FAA Reconsiders Airplane Mobile Device Ban
I think it's important to make it clear that the FAA is not reconsidering in-call flights -- that is still off the table. They are simply exploring whether the use of a phone's other features, as well as a tablet, notebook, ipod, Nintendo DS, etc would cause an issue.

Besides, I imagine the airlines that still feature airfones would put up a fight if calls were allowed, given how much they no doubt invested in the tech.

Tom LaSusa
InformationWeek Community Manager
PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/28/2012 | 5:23:22 PM
re: FAA Reconsiders Airplane Mobile Device Ban
This has always annoyed me when flying that I do not have access to my mobile device. I see the point and follow all rules when flying but I think stewardess love saying Gǣ if it has a power button power it offGǥ. I do not think that this statement is acurate, not every device with a power button needs to be turned off. I never understood why my old iPod has to be turned off when it runs on its own and uses no outside sources to draw the data. I am glad that this issue is finally being addressed. This situation makes me think of mobile devices and learning institutions on allowing them in classrooms, I say that to point out another mobile device issue that should be addressed and updated.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor


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