European Aviation Experts Determine That iOS Devices Won’t Crash Airplanes

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Ever feel like the fact that using a tablet during takeoff and landing was banned for passengers — while allowable to pilots — was a bit of a safety double-standard?

Ages ago, my Cult of Mac brother in arms John Brownlee argued as much — and now it seems that European safety watchdogs are on his side, too.

Passengers (at least those on one side of the pond) should be able to enjoy the newfound luxury of using their iOS devices during take-off and landing within a matters of weeks — after the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) determined that they did not pose a safety risk.

Passengers are currently limited to using electronic devices only during the cruising portion on a flight. Soon, however, it should be allowable to use your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch at any stage of the flight — just so long as you do it with your device set to “airplane mode” and with internet access disabled.

“Few people really believed that playing music on your phone or iPad was going to cause the plane to crash,” noted Irish politician, MEP Jim Higgins — claiming that the old rules needed updating.

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  • jeffythequick

    I understand the concern about the double standard, but let’s look at this deeper:

    A device that the pilot is using causes interference. What does the pilot do? Turn it off, thereby eliminating the problem.

    A device in the cabin is causing interference. What does the pilot do? Get up and pull every device from peoples’ hands and turn them off? Call back and say, “Hey, we’re having a problem with the ILS system, and we may miss the runway if you don’t turn your devices off!?” Just push through it and hope for the best?

    While the rules may seem obtuse at first, they are done so we don’t read in other sites about “aircraft collision due to interference from other devices”, or “navigation system in flight deck disrupted by interference.” The rules are slow to change because, on the one hand, people want to use their stuff NOW! but they are also on a $250,000,000 piece of interrelated equipment that has 200-500 people on board, and the latest tune from Katy Perry being listened to now may not be as important as you might think.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Apple Revolution, published by Random House, and is currently writing a book about algorithms for Random House/Penguin to be published in 2014. He also covers the digital humanities for Fast Company. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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