Nick Bilton of the NY Times has been on the FAA’s case regarding the use of electronic devices on airplanes, arguing there’s no reason we should have to shut off our iPhones, Kindles, and laptops during takeoff and landing because they pose no danger to the operation of the plane. Here’s an excerpt from his latest piece:
A year ago, when I first asked Les Dorr, a spokesman for the FAA, why the rule existed, he said the agency was being cautious because there was no proof that device use was completely safe. He also said it was because passengers needed to pay attention during takeoff.
When I asked why I can read a printed book but not a digital one, the agency changed its reasoning. I was told by another FAA representative that it was because an iPad or Kindle could put out enough electromagnetic emissions to disrupt the flight. Yet a few weeks later, the FAA proudly announced that pilots could now use iPads in the cockpit instead of paper flight manuals.
The FAA then told me that “two iPads are very different than 200.” But experts at EMT Labs, an independent testing facility in Mountain View, Calif., say there is no difference in radio output between two iPads and 200. “Electromagnetic energy doesn’t add up like that,” said Kevin Bothmann, the EMT Labs testing manager.
It’s not a matter of a flying device hitting another passenger, either. Kindles weigh less than six ounces; Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs weighs 2.1 pounds in hardcover. I’d rather be hit in the head by an iPad Mini than a 650-page book.