ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: Corporate Counsel
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Hands Off His iPad
After a long delay, millions of iPods and Kindles finally may be cleared for takeoff. In August the Federal Aviation Administration announced that, pending the results of a study that begins this year, it may allow more leeway on the use of portable electronic deviceseven during takeoffs and landings. And that may save Alec Baldwin, who was thrown off a plane before takeoff last year for refusing to power down his iPad, a lot of grief.
Under current regulations, airlines are allowed to make the call about what devices can be used, and when, without obtaining FAA approval. But aircraft operators are responsible for deciding whether devices will interfere with communication and navigation systems, and most haven't allowed passengers to use electronics during the beginning and end of flights.
But that may change. The agency is looking to the industryalong with mobile technology companies, pilot and flight attendant groups, and passenger associationsfor input, noting that both devices and aircraft systems have evolved over time.
"Recognizing that some passengers may wish to use their devices throughout a flight, the FAA is requesting comments regarding the FAA's policies, guidance, and procedures that aircraft operators use to determine whether to allow a particular [device] for usage during flight," the agency said in a request for comment.
The current guidance was laid out in 2006, well before devices like smartphones and tablets became ubiquitous on passenger flights. "I think the FAA simply has been behind the times," says Edward Faberman, cochair of the aviation practice at Wiley Rein in Washington, and former assistant chief counsel at the FAA. "This was not as high a priority as it probably should have been."