back to article iPad no flight risk says Federal Aviation Authority

Being asked to switch off your electronic devices during the takeoff and landing phases of a flight now looks even more anachronistic, after American Airlines announced it has been given permission to let its pilots use iPads in the cockpit “in all phases of flight”. The airline is chuffed that the Federal Aviation …

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  1. Aqua Marina

    Trigger Happy!

    The previous ban on mobile devices was to stop Dom Jolly like conversations taking place, much to the annoyance of the rest of the passengers, and not because it posed any threat to the aircraft.

    <Nokia Ring Tone> "HELLLOO!!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME???? I'M ON A PLANE!! NO A PLANE!!! NO NOT SPAIN, PLANE!!!!. HUH WHAT'S THAT NOISE? IT'S THE PLANE!!!!!"

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Trigger Happy!

      Well lately that seems like most flights I've been on recently about five minutes before landing. It seems that tutting isn't enough to get the message across to today's youth.

      1. TheRealRoland

        Re: Trigger Happy!

        What I don't get is that these people feel that it's their right to use any electronics during the takeoff and landing phase of the flight.

        Just the fact that you have not heard of any accidents does not give you the -right- to have this stuff switched on.

        You might as well start running red lights (because you don't know anyone that got killed while doing that) or running around naked on a plane (because you don't know anyone that got killed while doing that).

        Yes, your justification is that ridiculous.

        Currently the rule is that during takeoff and landing this equipment has to be switched off. What's so difficult to understand about that?

        If you don't like that, make all efforts to have that rule changed. But don't 'flaunt' it.

        But, I guess I'm one of those of a 'dying breed'.

        I'll still rat you out when you sit next to me and have that crap switched on. Of course, only while it's still the rule.

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: Trigger Happy!

          Oh, and let's see how long people last sitting next to me on 'business calls' while I'm humming and singing nursery rhymes. No rules against that, are there?

          If I have to listen to their Very Important Input during their meetings, they might as well listen to me improving my singing skills.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trigger Happy!

      You're joking, I'm sure, I hope, because mobile phones won't get a signal from the ground at 30-odd thousand feet while doing 500mph anyway. I've left my mobile on by accident in the overhead locker many times before, the plane didn't crash, we didn't lose our way, and when I did retrieve it I didn't have any signal.

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: Trigger Happy!

        Unfortunately, the 9/11 recordings demonstrated that cell phones on a plane do work. 30000 feet is only 5 miles, usually no objects besides the aeroplanes hull between you and it.

        1. dotdavid

          Re: Trigger Happy!

          The planes were considerably lower than 30000 feet on 9/11 when the calls were being made.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Trigger Happy!

        Mobile phones most assuredly can get a signal at cruising height/speed. Like you, I'd left my mobile on by accident and after arriving, found a set of telco SMSs welcoming me to France, Germany and Italy!

      3. hayseed
        Trollface

        Re: Trigger Happy!

        Like the dolphins who push lost humans to land, we only hear from those passengers in planes that DIDN'T

        crash after their mobile phones were left on.

  2. Andy ORourke
    Joke

    Presumably........

    The iPad (or other tablet device) given to the pilots will ONLY contain the documentation it's intended to replace?

    I mean, you wouldn't want them playing angry birds when they're supposed to be doing the landing check lists!

    Also, what's the betting that they still have to take the paperwork along "just in case"?

    1. Piro

      Re: Presumably........

      I imagine the chance that all the paperwork will be there "just in case" is approaching 100%.

      In fact, I would very much prefer it was 100%, because you shouldn't muck about with flight safety.

      1. NogginTheNog
        Coat

        Re: Presumably........

        I can see it now:

        "Siri, can you show me emergency landing procedures for Hong Kong airport?!"

        "I'm sorry I can only look for businesses, maps, and traffic in the United States".

        1. My backside

          Re: Presumably........

          iPads don't have Siri, stupid.

          1. Andy ORourke
            Facepalm

            Re: Presumably........

            Wow, Just Wow, look, my original post was meant as a joke, some of the follow up's also seemed to me to have humerous intentions so why the outrage and downvotes?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Pint

              Re: Presumably........

              What if they're playing the 787 flight simulator on their iPad? Anyone reminiscing about the video of the F1 car being controlled from an iPhone? I am.

          2. Alan Dougherty

            Re: Presumably........

            Pilot : 'Siri, you can't be serious?'

            Co-pilot : 'I am serious.. and don't call me Siri'...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Presumably........

            iPads don't have Siri, YET!

            There, fixed that for youse...

            1. ChaosFreak

              Re: Presumably........

              It's unlikely they'll carry paper backups. More likely they'll have two iPads (for redundancy) with the third backup being radio communication with base.

  3. baswell
    FAIL

    Lower fares?

    With 1.2 million flights a year, there is $1 to be divided between all passengers of each flight to lower fares.

    And that's without taking into account buying these iPad to begin with. If they buy one for each pilot, we're talking $5M initial outlay in hardware alone. And then there's the installation of brackets in each aircraft to hold the iPad.

    Expect a fare increase to pay for it all!

    1. Velv
      Joke

      Re: Lower fares?

      "$5M initial outlay in hardware alone"

      AND the fanbois pilots will need the latest model each year!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lower fares?

      +1

      Lower fares? Surely you jest!

      No doubt they will find a way to add a tablet fee to all the other fees.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lower fares?

      Brackets? Current manuals are kept in a bag, so having the iPad in a sleeve is good enough.

      1. baswell
        Boffin

        Re: Lower fares?

        Negative, ghost rider. Approach plates and other procedures are either taken out of the binder (or the whole binder is used) and put into a clip board as they are needed on either the yoke or one attached to the side.

        Trying to fly an instrument approach while holding an iPad in your hand doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me. (Or very safe)

        (Yes, I am a pilot.)

        1. ChaosFreak

          Re: Lower fares?

          They are not replacing approach plates with the iPad, only the aircraft operating manual. They will still need paper copies of all of the navigational charts needed for IFR flight including approach plates.

          --I'm a pilot too!

  4. Another User
    Go

    Old News?

    From last years Guardian (Aug 20, 2011)I can quote:

    Pilots on United and Continental Airlines in the US are replacing their heavy paper flight manuals with iPads loaded with a special aviation navigation application created by Colorado-based Jeppesen, while American and Delta are also testing the technology. Alaska Airlines has already shifted over to iPads.

    So the only news seems to be that American Airline switches too now.

    1. DZ-Jay

      Re: Old News?

      No. The news this time is that the FAA has approved its use, in-cockpit, at all stages of flight.

    2. LateNightLarry
      Coat

      Re: Old News?

      Of course, you have to remember that American Airlines is in bankruptcy as well... Don't have a lot of extra money to play with, so they'll HAVE to raise rates to buy the iPads.

      That's me coat, with the iPad in the pocket...

      1. ChaosFreak

        Re: Old News?

        Ha! "Bankruptcy"... that's a good one.

        The airlines have all used "bankruptcy" as a way to reneg on their contractual committments to employee retirement benefits and healthcare.

        (I'm the son of a retired AA mechanic who worked there for 35 years. His retirement benefits as promised in his contract were slashed leaving him and my mother struggling to make ends meet.)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it about attention?

    I thought the reason they don't want you using electronics is because they want to get your attention easily in case of any problems.

    Personally, I like to take a dead tree format book. I can read right through taxi, take off, landing, everything. Though it's a bit dodgy reading through the safety announcement. If don't pay attention to that, they give you an "I'm going to spit in your in flight meal" look.

    1. Magister

      Re: Isn't it about attention?

      In theory - but the next time that you fly, check out how many people ignore the safety briefing by reading a newspaper or the inflight magazine.

      The was a programme a while back relating to this; they highlighted that in tests, people panicked and completely forgot the briefing that they had received barely 10 minutes before. Several people couldn't work out how to release their seat belts. Most had no idea where the nearest exit was or how they could get to it.

      Flying has become too safe; people are just not prepared for anything going wrong. At the end of last year, I was on a flight that has reached the runway and was just starting to take up position when the pilot aborted due to an hydraulics problem. We had to return to the hangar so that a fitter could check out the pipe. People were actually complaining; they really thought that the pilot should have taken off and waited until the destination to get it fixed!

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Flying has become too safe; people are just not prepared for anything going wrong

        If it does go wrong, all those safety drills mean pretty much diddly squat... pulling a little mask over your face as you plunge to the ground at 400kt

        1. Magister

          Re: Flying has become too safe; people are just not prepared for anything going wrong

          Billy Connelly made the same comment about having life jackets rather than parachutes.

          "Aw hey Jim; ya wanna head fer tha wee puddle there"

          Having said that, if you are on the ground and the plane is on fire (happened at Manchester) it would be a good idea if people knew how to get the hell out in a hurry.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Flying has become too safe; people are just not prepared for anything going wrong

            "if you are on the ground and the plane is on fire (happened at Manchester) it would be a good idea if people knew how to get the hell out in a hurry."

            That's why they now have lights in the floor showing the way to the exit, so you can find your way out whilst crawling to avoid the smoke.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Flying has become too safe; people are just not prepared for anything going wrong

          "If it does go wrong, all those safety drills mean pretty much diddly squat"

          Those *very basic* drills that you are shown are intended to actually improve your and your fellow passenger's chance of survival should a mishap occur. Please do not try to second-guess the intentions of those who designed them.

          I sometimes wish the demonstrations and videos were a bit more realistic, showing the pax the sheer violence and confusion of, e.g., an explosive decompression or an aborted take-off. I'm sure it would put quite a few people off from flying, but at least it would get the attention of all the others.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Stuart 22

        Remember the Hudson

        I seem to think that evacuation was a 100% success. Everybody did their job and followed the manuals as far as they could.

        Indeed one lesson was that the manuals needed to be updated to get more stuff done in a limited time. Easy if it is in electronic form. More challenging if they have to reprint and re-collate. These things are life and death.

        1. hayseed

          Re: Remember the Hudson

          If I remember, the manual really needed to be updated to close vents earlier - they were left at the end of the checklist, and the plane filled and sank in the water. That the pilot realized that he could land next to a terminal filled with lots of ferries is what led to the success of the evacuation.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Please spare me

        In theory - but the next time that you fly, check out how many people ignore the safety briefing by reading a newspaper or the inflight magazine.

        So what? It's always the same information, anyone who has flown more than a handful of times already knows how to fasten the seat belt, where the exits are, how to put on your oxygen mask if they drop down, the procedure for opening the emergency exit door, and so on.

        If they were teaching me how to land the damn plane in the event that both pilots died and it was left up to me, then I'll listen intently each and every time because those would be some very complicated instructions, as well as being different on different planes. But the instructions they provide at the start of every flight are simple enough I could have followed them when I was five years old, so please forgive me for not giving it my rapt attention when they are repeated for the umpteenth time!

        Think about this. Which is more likely to cost lives, people flying who have never heard the instructions provided before the flight, or people driving a car who have never been given instructions for what to do in case their car becomes submerged in water, stalls on a deserted road with below zero temperatures, has a flat tire on a freeway in a construction zone with nowhere to pull over, etc? No, this isn't an invitation for some nanny state solution of having a two minute safety presentation in my car every time I turn the ignition before I'm allowed to put it in gear...

        1. ChaosFreak

          Re: Please spare me

          True. The probability of an evacuation is so astronomically low that preparing for it is like waking up every morning and practicing the Heimlich manouver just in case you have to save a choking person that day.

          On the other hand, you're just sitting there not doing anything anyway and repetition does improve retention!

    2. Robert E A Harvey
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Isn't it about attention?

      I have often heard cabin staff say to people that they must remove thier earphones during the landing phase because of this idea of being able to hear announcements.

      But I have never ever seen them wake up a sleeping passenger at the same point in the flight.

      <- some of them are not bright, of course

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Isn't it about attention?

        Not only have I seen them wake up passengers, I've been awoken for landings myself.

        YMMV, but I don't want to fly with an airline where it isn't policy.

        It's very much abount attention. Landing is THE most dangerous part of any flight, closely trailed by takeoffs - and sleepy passengers are corpses waiting for an accident.

    3. 100113.1537
      Happy

      Re: Isn't it about attention?

      I remember one flight attendant start off with "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now that I have your attention, please listen to this important safety information." It worked with a a lot of the passengers grinning and made for rather a nice atmosphere on the flight!

  6. Arachnoid
    Flame

    Tablets are fine and it just goes to prove that passengers have been right all along about interference to inflight electronics.On the other hand if they get damaged or go flat are the airlines going to stop the pilot taking the next flight up or even land early at another destination because he has an equipment failure?..........

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      I wonder if they will be specific about the model. I.e. 3g? wifi? flight mode only?

      1. mark l 2 Silver badge
        Joke

        Yes they will be fussy about the models. American Airlines say iPads are ok, but definitely won't be allowed Samsung tablets

        1. Malcolm Weir

          ... because the Samsung Galaxy tablets are reserved for use by Business Class passengers on 767s.

          (True: on AA, that is what they hand out, loaded with movies and stuff).

        2. ChaosFreak
          Joke

          Judge Koh's Karma

          Pilot of Judge Koh's Airplane: "Ladies and gentlemen, we have a serious problem that I can only fix by opening up the manual on my Samsung Galaxy Tab. Unfortunately Judge Koh sitting in seat 3D has banned them."

          Judge Koh (being beaten): "Mmmfff, patent rights, ooph, protecting innovation, arrgh, are you on crack?"

    2. Mattjimf

      Why would the tablets go flat, the cockpit must have a cigarette lighter or usb port to allow charging in flight.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Charging

        For the amount of time iPads are used, they can last for 4+ days. Flight manuals are there for reference, so the iPad would be on standby most of the time. Charging them in the crew lounge is generally sufficient.

    3. TheRealRoland

      pax were right!?

      I'm sorry - had to reread this a couple of times.

      The passengers were right all along that there was no interference.

      I'm sure that if you asked one of the stoopids who was not switching the electronic device off when asked, he replied 'I'm testing my theory'.

      I know, 'flame' icon. Next time use the 'get my coat' icon. Except when you need to evacuate the plane.

      1. ChaosFreak
        Thumb Up

        Re: pax were right!?

        Actually, you are right. There has never been a single verified incidence of personal electronics interfering with aircraft systems. That includes "intentional transmitters."

        1. cortland

          Re: pax were right!?

          ASRS Database Report Set

          Passenger Electronic Devices

          Report Set Description.........................................A sampling of reports referencing passenger electronic devices incidents.

          Update Number....................................................19.0

          Date of Update .....................................................January 18, 2012

          Number of Records in Report Set........................50

          http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/docs/rpsts/ped.pdf

  7. Danny 14 Silver badge
    Stop

    wut?

    "preventing them becoming projectiles "

    Err my kids usually use pens and books along with drinks bottles. Surely those pose more of a FUD than a phone.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Alan Dougherty

      Re: wut?

      Depends on if it's an old 90's Nokia or not..

  8. Avatar of They
    Thumb Down

    Means nothing to me

    I am too busy clutching the seat in fear of imminent explosive death to care about take off or landing procedures or whether my phone is on or off.

    As long as the pilot or planes CPU knows what's going on I don't care to be honest.

    1. Hellcat

      Re: Means nothing to me

      Providing you grip the seat with the force of a car crushing machine, and stare constantly at the wings and engine checking for signs that they are about to part from the rest of the aircraft.... you will be safe.

      It has worked for me so far.

      Wouldn't a kindle (other e-readers are available) be a better electronic manual holder, especially with the amount of glare in a cockpit?

      1. cortland

        Re: Means nothing to me

        I suspect the device data may uploaded to existing multifunction displays, part of the control panel. And don't forget that there are two pilots working. It's not like a pilot in command is texting while landing.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Must Try Harder

    Tut, tut, only two 'fondleslabs' and one 'fondlesab'. Just three stupid meaningless words in a Register article about tablets will not do.

    It's either one every sentence next time or you'll have to join the 'fanbois' at the bottom of the class.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one knows for sure

    If planes start experiencing inexplicable electronic issues you can bet all e-toys will get banned from cockpits and again for take-off and landings - as it should be. It won't take many unexplained incidents to see the logic in discretion for the minor, short term inconvenience.

    1. ChaosFreak

      Re: No one knows for sure

      Cellphones and PEDs have been around for 20+ years and have never caused problems despite billions of flight hours. Do you know something we don't or is this purely an unscientific "better safe than sorry" argument. If you feel that way, you'd better stay at home all day in a padded room!

  11. dotdavid
    Thumb Up

    Patrick Smith

    ...has some stuff to say about iPads in cockpits too. He's all for them.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worry not guys, they worry enough about your safety to ban electronics from becoming projectiles in the cabin, but not enough about the pilots in the cockpit being wanged with a flying fondleslab.

  13. JaitcH
    FAIL

    That's a nice win for American and for punters, who can hope it translates into lower fares.

    Fat chance.

    AA was the lead airline in slashing Travel Agent commissions, as well stiffing passengers with baggage charges. Ryanair looks honourable next to them. Let's hope American fails.

    AA also has the oldest fleet in the US and a high percentage of cabin staff look as if they came with the aircraft, too.

    Give me an airline that cares, every time, like Eva or Cathay.

    1. ChaosFreak

      Re: That's a nice win for American and for punters, who can hope it translates into lower fares.

      Eva and Cathay benefit from regulated monopolies enforced by their governments... not a fair comparison.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Mark C 2
    Stop

    "Worry not guys, they worry enough about your safety to ban electronics from becoming projectiles in the cabin, but not enough about the pilots in the cockpit being wanged with a flying fondleslab."

    The ones in the cockpit wil be fixed to the control yoke.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Control yoke????

      How old ARE their aircraft!!!!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Erm, call me picky.....

    "after American Airlines announced it has been given permission to let its pilots use iPads in the cockpit “in all phases of flight”."

    I think i'd prefer the pilot to be paying attention to landing the f**king plane, rather than playing Angry Birds(tm)!

  17. Alan Denman

    Another Thomas Crapper story

    I for one can't wait until,technology gets back to being, well, technology.

    This is as interesting as a number two

  18. Wize

    Doesn't mean safe for everyone

    I'm guessing the pilot's devices have wifi and 3g turned off.

    Its easier to tell users to turn things off (and check that no one is playing with a device on takeoff/landing) than ensure every passenger who is playing with their toy has the right things disabled.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes sir, the pilots can use their iPad, but it you want to use your device, that will be an extra $5.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh

    Given all the technology in a plane's cockpit... why are iPads required to store this documentation? They could fit a small screen hooked up to an independently powered Raspberry PI for < $100, but it has to be an iPad.

    I really don't understand the obsession with using them for *everything* - even when it's not suitable (in this case cost more than anything.)

    1. JaitcH
      Unhappy

      It so ....

      Apple can crow Powered by Apple.

      It's enough to make you fly a different carrier.

    2. Alan Dougherty

      Re: Sigh

      Possibly, because the pilot can have data stored for multiple aircraft, for out of cockpit reading, if he's being a good boy, and not boning the hostesses on a stop over and aircraft change..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sigh

      "Given all the technology in a plane's cockpit... why are iPads required to store this documentation? "

      First of all, they're not "required" as such, but nearly all pilots have them anyway, and it's a convenient way to have all the various bits of documentation easily accessible and searchable.

      "They could fit a small screen hooked up to an independently powered Raspberry PI for < $100"

      No they couldn't. That would make your device part of the plane's avionics--do you have any idea what the certification entails in terms of cost, time, effort, and cost [sic]? Why do you think most aeroplane technology is obsolete by modern non-aviation standards?

      "I really don't understand the obsession with using them for *everything*"

      As I wrote elsewhere, they're stupidly popular with airline pilots--like it or not, that means that people will go and write tons of useful applications for them, creating a sort of positive feedback loop.

      "even when it's not suitable (in this case cost more than anything.)"

      In this case, the cost and convenience factors play strongly in their favour. Air navigation data is updated every 28 days. Electronic subscriptions are cheaper (depending on your employer's arrangement with the provider, significantly so), and updating paper charts was no fun at all, especially when you have hundreds or thousands of copies. :( Modern EFBs get updated (semi-)automatically and securely over a network connection.

      I hope this clears it up a bit. I'm no fan of any of the popular tablet platforms on the market, but in this case I can see how this is simply a case of responding to market demand.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rubbish Article

    Just FYI, what this article seems to be half-arsedly attempting, and spectacularly failing, to report, is the use of iPad tablet devices as the hardware component of an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). Some examples of EFBs here: http://images.google.com/?q=electronic+flight+bag

    Very simply put, an Electronic Flight Bag means you have a portable computer, typically in tablet form factor, which holds relevant documents and applications relating to both the aircraft and the specific sector being flown. A more advanced type of EFB can also be used for tracking progress of the flight (shows a map with a cute aircraft symbol in the middle of it). Initially, these portable computers were custom-made, ruggedised, hardened-electronics jobs. All a bit over the top and expensive.

    For whatever reason, iPads are incredibly popular amongst flight crew: almost everyone has got at least one (yes, some people overdo it and have two or more!). Btw, it is specifically iPads that seem to be in vogue, rather than Android devices--it's just what's "in" within this particular community.

    Airlines, aircraft manufacturers, navigation data providers, and regulators are now catching onto this and essentially making official what has been going on for a couple of years now: people take their devices to work with them and use them to assist in flight planning and execution.

    Many major aircraft manufacturers (incl. Airbus, Boeing, and Gulfstream) now offer iPad-based EFB products. It is up to each individual airline to seek approval for their own use of an EFB solution though. American Airlines have been doing so since at least December 2011, and they have not been the first, so exactly why this is news now, I'm at a bit of a loss to explain.

    --------

    Now, as to the specifics in this article:

    "iPad no flight risk says Federal Aviation Authority" --- care to provide a quote, Mr. Sharwood? That seems quite a daft thing for the FAA to say.

    "Being asked to switch off your electronic devices during the takeoff and landing phases of a flight now looks even more anachronistic" --- No it does not. There are human factor reasons why people are asked to put their toys away at the phases of flight where they are most likely to get hurt / massively scared, which have nothing to do with the electronic nature of such devices.

    But aside from that, there is a difference between one or two low-power RF devices here and there, and hundreds of them operating at the same time (possibly at high power all hunting around for a signal, as in the case of mobile phones). To the limited extent of my knowledge, it is not known with certainty whether that causes a problem or not with avionics, but why take the risk? Especially when, as pointed out above, there are other factors that make it advisable to switch them things off and stow them away in any case.

    "A nicer win may come from the fact that if the FAA thinks it is safe for an iPad to operate and emit electromagnetic radiation in the computer-packed confines of a cockpit, surely it becomes harder to justify the order to turn off other machines further back inside the plane."

    This is utter nonsense, Mr. Sharwood.

    "Commercial airline pilot and blogger Patrick Smith has noted that the ban on using electronics is more about preventing them becoming projectiles if a plane hits turbulence."

    Congratulations, so you know how to use Google to discover a well-known blog. At least you got lucky in your search: Mr. Smith does a wonderful job of writing about aviation things in layman's terms. It is a shame that you do not seem to have bothered to contact him and ask him to offer his opinion on the embarrassing drivel you wrote here.

    "The airline is also testing fondlesabs for cabin crew" --- and if they are, in regulatory terms that is an entirely separate matter from what happens at the cockpit.

    So basically, what is this article about? That pilots use iPads? Why yes, most do nowadays--next time you're at the airport café have a look at what the uniformed boys and girls have on their laps (the latter not so much, come to think of it).

  22. cortland

    Slightly better informed ...

    During the past 35 years I've been privileged to work with radio interference and electromagnetic compatibility issues of IT, telco, medical and lately, aviation electronics. That may make me slightly better informed on the matter than the average punter.

    Even consumer-grade testing (and what has to be done to pass) is often considered an unnecessary expense, and equipment to be used on aircraft is tested to considerably tighter standards than that sold to the public. "Why are you making us do all these tests? No one else does! You're costing us money!" -- and this, at a firm that made defibrillators. I told him I didn't want to kill folks we were trying to save, and he went away.

    However... Apple bought into doing things right a long time ago. That raises costs, so if you want cheap stuff, you go to the "designed to meet" (not often TESTED) gear from lower cost shops.Good luck.

    ED14, otherwise known in the USA as RTCA/DO-160, is the standard that governs equipment used on aircraft. When the FAA says it approves equipment, it has done so after all the tests are completed,and after it has examined each claim of compliance with a VERY baleful eye. Many baleful eyes.

    .

    That's not the case with run-of-the-mill electronics, though. The FAA doesn't get to look at these test results, so, considering they want something like a _maximum_ of one incident per ten million flights, they just say "Turn it off." That may be too strict; modern electronics uses less power and can produce a lot less radio noise than an old 33 MHz Pentium. They just don't KNOW. The folks who make our kit are largely unwilling to pay what it takes to find out,. And the really uninformed -- some are flight attendants -- think unplugged stereo earphones will interfere with radios in the cockpit.

    Fiction: There we were at ten thousand feet, Messerschmidts to the left of us, MiGs to the right, when the stewardess came up; "Sir, you'll have to turn off your flight simulator now, we're about to land...". So I put away my copy of Aviation Week.

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