There might be a sliver of hope for those who want to finish up that last round of Words with Friends or read a Kindle during takeoff. The New York Times' Nick Bilton — who previously commissioned his own tests to demonstrate the safety of using electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, and landing — has heard from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the agency plans to take a "fresh look" at the ban. It might not be much, but that's the most we've ever heard concerning a change to the rule that sees flight attendants constantly asking passengers to turn off iPads, BlackBerrys, e-readers, and more. However, the FAA is only considering devices other than cellphones for the time being.
Currently, for a device to be approved each and every model needs to be tested on an empty flight — one at a time. And that's not all: each device needs to be tested on every plane in an airline's fleet, and again for every single airline that wants to allow the use of personal electronic devices, according to a vice president at Virgin America. It's an extremely time- and cost-prohibitive process, so airlines haven't been conducting the necessary testing to get approval to allow the use of electronic devices.
The FAA says that's why it's going to re-evaluate the matter itself, and now it's trying to work with "manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionics manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers" to solve the problem of getting devices approved. The last time the FAA did any testing on the matter was 2006 — since then we've seen pilots using iPads as electronic flight bags, and e-readers and tablets have become less of a luxury and more of a staple of passengers' carry-on bags. We think millions of fliers would agree it's time for a change — if we can be sure that it is 100 percent safe.