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Will the F.A.A. stop prohibiting electronic devices on airliners?

File photo of passengers using a tablet on an airplane.
File photo of passengers using a tablet on an airplane.
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The Federal Aviation Administration currently prohibits the use of electronic devices on commercial airplanes below 10,000 feet. But we’re increasingly a nation that is wirelessly plugged in, and public sentiment about being disconnected while we’re sitting on airplanes has been less than patient.

Alec Baldwin is just one of many people who have run up against these restrictions when he got himself booted from an American Airlines flight late last year because he just couldn’t stop playing the popular Words with Friends app on his smart phone while the plane idled at the gate. The F.A.A. has been hearing cries to modify these rules, and they still cite safety as the reason for the restrictions, saying “As with any regulation, safety is always our top priority, and no changes will be made until we are certain they will not impact safety and security.”


Everyone wants to arrive safe and sound, but the question remains… can your iPhone really bring down a plane? How dangerous is technology to airplane navigation? Is it time to change the rules?


Miles O’Brien, broadcast news journalist who specializes in aviation, space and technology; he’s also a private pilot