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Will your Kindle crash the plane? FCC chairman doesn't think so

December 10, 2012|By David Lazarus
  • The head of the Federal Communications Commission is calling on for a review of restrictions on electronic gadgets during.
The head of the Federal Communications Commission is calling on for a review… (AllThingsD.com )

If a pilot says the plane will crash if I use my Kindle during takeoff or landing, I'll turn the thing off but quick. But is there really a danger?

Maybe not.

The head of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, says the Federal Aviation Administration should allow for greater use of electronic gadgets during flights. The FAA plans to have a working group look at the issue, although it won't include cellphones in the mix.

"This review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives," Genachowski wrote in a letter to Michael Huerta, the FAA's acting administrator.

"They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness."

Twenty years of testing have failed to definitively prove that electronic devices can cause aircraft interference. Nevertheless, passengers are prohibited from using tablets and e-readers during takeoff and landing.

Quiz: Test your knowledge about airport security

In August, the FAA released a study of in-flight use of cellphones, and no direct incidents of interference were found.

Some airlines have indicated that the reason we can't use our toys is because they want passengers to pay attention during takeoff and landing. But, honestly speaking, how many times do we really need to see the safety video?

My feeling is that cellphones are better left off during flights, if for no other reason than because we don't need a plane full of people yapping about their personal lives.

But if an e-reader or tablet has no demonstrable impact on safety, then let me use it. Air travel is awful enough. Anything that distracts from the experience is a good thing.

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