Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration has come under fire for the widely known rule about electronic devices being active during takeoffs and landings. As such, they've begun the process of changing the rule, but the process, as recently discovered by the New York Times' Nick Bilton, is likely to take quite a while to resolve.
The problem is one of device proliferation. There are so many different kinds of devices out there--from the huge array of Android devices to regular laptops and Apple's (News - Alert) slate of hardware--that individually testing each device for potential interference is going to take a long time indeed. Additionally, the rate at which new tablets are released--Amazon just brought out a host of them, and even Toys 'R' Us is getting in the game with a new kid-friendly tablet--the idea of sending each tablet on an empty flight to ensure that each device doesn't interfere with the flight sounds like not only a daunting task, but one that's downright impossible to complete with any surety.
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Worse yet, the thought that airlines would change the rules anyway is one that doesn't make much sense. The Wall Street Journal recently conducted a survey of 492 airline passengers, and discovered that the chances that the 78 passengers on a standard domestic flight in the United States all have their devices fully, and properly, deactivated are vanishingly small. Worse yet, the FAA has no real reason to relax its policies, as the consequences for failure would be disastrous, even if somewhat unlikely based on the sheer number of people who don't actually turn their devices off in the first place.
Many assert that the issue is more political than anything else, and that may be the case. No one wants to be responsible for relaxing the rules on electronics during takeoff and landing and then have a problem happen anywhere near that.
Conclusions will be drawn, and they will not be favorable conclusions. Still, the widespread use of portable hardware likely won't be accommodating of rules that are being increasingly seen as pointless, and even have at least anecdotal evidence to back up that perception. The process may be moving glacially slow, but it may well one day codify that which many are already doing.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman