Next time a flight attendant tells you to turn off your iPhone or Kindle during takeoff or landing, think of this Nick Bilton piece…
According to the F.A.A., 712 million passengers flew within the United States in 2010. Let’s assume that just 1 percent of those passengers — about two people per Boeing 737, a conservative number — left a cellphone, e-reader or laptop turned on during takeoff or landing. That would mean seven million people on 11 million flights endangered the lives of their fellow passengers. Yet, in 2010, no crashes were attributed to people using technology on a plane. None were in 2009. Or 2008, 2007 and so on. You get the point.
Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn’t allow passengers to board a plane with an iPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists.
Here’s the quote I love, from FAA spokesman Les Dorr, who wants to err on the side of caution:
“There was no evidence saying these devices can’t interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can.”
That’s a horrible basis for policy. There’s no evidence one way or the other regarding the effect of cotton on aviation either, but we don’t limit passengers to polyester pants.