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Friday, 27 September 2013 08:17

US mulls mobile use during take off

Written by Nick Farrell

Is it worth risking a plane crash?

US air safety regulators are about to start considering allowing people to use mobile devices, laptops and tablets during flights. The new rules are likely to increase use of in-flight Internet service and allow passengers to plug their own electronics into in-flight entertainment systems.

Current FAA rules require devices be switched off below 10,000 feet and ban mobile calls at any altitude because of the risk they can interfere with airplane radios and other systems. But the FAA has worked out that many mobile phone owners do not care if their plane crashes, provided that they can text their friends to say that they are on the plane and tell them it is crashing. Many passengers routinely ignore the rules, leaving devices on purposely or by accident.

What is possible is that the report will suggest specific ways that other electronics can be made safer in other phases of flight, by plane makers airlines and others involved in flight safety. The FAA has long wrestled with the issue of electronics on flights, publishing its first rule in 1966, after studies showed FM radios could interfere with navigation systems. Pilots complain that they have heard mobile phone noise in their headsets while flying as the phones tried to connect to cell towers.

 

Nick Farrell

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