If airline paranoia is anything to go by, planes should be falling out of the sky every time Johnny or Joan turn on a Playstation portable, Kindle or God forbid, even a smartphone during take-off or landing.
Thankfully, post air-crash analysis has yet to demonstrate this apocalyptic scenario of gadget-based in-flight doom. Either way, the big question in my mind is ‘why?’ Surely I’m not the only one who’s ever wondered if an accidentally switched-on gizmo was going to lead to air travel carnage?
Now the US Federal Aviation Administration (that’s the FAA, those folks who for years have told cabin crews to hassle you and I into turning off widgets during take-off and landings), is reviewing the use of tech in flight.
Things kicked into high gear as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote a carefully worded letter to the FAA that calls on them to “enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices.” (Guess he was pissed at having to forgoe a round of Angry Birds at altitude…).
Now, I’m a big fan of any opportunity to use tech whenever I can, but funnily enough, I’m also not a huge fan of not being killed in plane crashes. But still, if the FCC and FAA are looking at this, then there must be something to it.
Genachowski is pretty convinced, and even went as far to say that: “This review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives.” He even goes on to say that “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 US competitiveness.”
Strong stuff. Thankfully, even though Genachowski and the FAA are confident that gadgets and planes are unlikely to be a fatal combo, they’ve sensibly decided not to allow flyers to make phone calls in flight. Being stuck next to some idiot on the bus or train as they shout inanities down the phone to their partners may be incredibly annoying, but on a long haul flight it’d probably be enough to drive normally reasonable people to commit acts of violence. PAT PILCHER