Senator asks FAA to reform rules on using devices

by: Nate SwannerDecember 31, 2012


Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is on your side. Recently, Sen. McCaskill wrote a letter to the FAA asking that travelers be able to use their electronic devices in-flight, and for the duration of the flight. Currently, concerns over any device that emits a radio frequency prohibit us from using our gadgets during take-off or landing sequences.

Calling the current rules “inconvenient to travelers,” Sen. McCaskill also pointed out that those rules lack a scientific basis. While it may all sound a bit like sour grapes from a traveler who happens to be a senator, Sen. McCaskill sits on a Senate Committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation which has oversight on aviation communication policy. An excerpt from her letter to the FAA chief points out that pilots are now allowed to use tablets in lieu of paper flight plans, which causes skepticism amongst travelers:

As you surely know, the public is growing increasingly skeptical of prohibitions on the use of many electronic devices during the full duration of a flight, while at the same time using such devices in increasing numbers. For example, a traveler can read a paper copy of a newspaper throughout a flight, but is prohibited from reading the same newspaper for major portions of the flight when reading it on an e-reader. The fear of devices that operate on electricity is dated, at best. Importantly, such anachronistic policies undermine the public’s confidence in the FAA, thereby increasing the likelihood that rules of real consequence will be given too little respect. The absurdity of the current situation was highlighted when the FAA acted earlier this year to allow tablet computers to replace paper flight manuals in the cockpit, further enhancing the public’s skepticism about the current regulations.

The full copy of the letter can be found on Senator McCaskill’s website (see Source link below). While the inability to use a smartphone or tablet during a flight is definitely an inconvenience, the FAA is slow to adopt changes to rules. Would you be interested in the ability to use your device for the duration of your flight?


  • ivan

    Wait hold up. I’m picking up some common sense from this guy. Well that don’t make no sense lol

  • Vinnie

    Oh boy, I can envision a 3-4 hour flight with a dozen or so people wearing a bluetooth headset all talking loud enough for the whole cabin to hear. Maybe the airlines can issue some sort of sound deadening device for the cell phone users to put over their heads.

  • After you get above 10 feet theres usually no cell service anyways. Unless I am listening to music I turn mine off just to save battery. What would be nice would be able to go through take off / landing without trying to hide that my tablet / laptop is on.

  • Ed Lewis

    Being able to use a tablet throughout an entire flight would be nice. Listening to someone talk on their phone would be terrible. There needs to be some sort of compromise.

  • jimbob

    Lets see how useful the GPS receiver of the plane is with 200 wireless devices on the plane, especially if a few are misbehaving (bad antenna or what-ever). I can get interference in my telephone and headphone amp from cell phone data, so 100x times that on a plane? Might be a greater risk than many think…