New Tests Cast Doubt on FAA Electronics Ban

Ryan Whitwam

New York Times writer Nick Bilton has had enough of the FAA’s vague explanations of why personal electronic devices aren’t allowed during certain parts of a flight. After frequently questioning the rationale for such rules, he recently commissioned his own tests on devices like the Kindle. The results seemed to support Bilton’s position that the FAA being a little disingenuous.

The tests showed that a Kindle only outputs roughly 30 microvolts per meter, far below the level needed to affect even unshielded wiring. Additionally, the number of devices active doesn’t matter as EM radiation is not cumulative. Bilton also cites some exceptions the FAA has made for devices like personal voice recorders and shavers. Both these devices emit similar amounts of radiation as a Kindle.

Despite the likely safety of low-power devices like the Kindle, the FAA ban on using the devices during take-off and landing remains in effect. One engineer consulted in the report said the real reason for the ban was “inertia and paranoia” in the FAA. Some pilots have also pointed out the rules help people remain distraction-free during the most dangerous parts of a flight. What do you think of the electronics ban?


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