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FAA To Allow Use of Most Electronic Devices Throughout Flights 221

Posted by timothy
from the bright-spot-for-the-day dept.
alstor writes "As previously expected, the FAA has announced that most portable electronic devices may be used throughout the duration of a flight. Mobile phones may still only be used in airplane mode without cellular service."
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FAA To Allow Use of Most Electronic Devices Throughout Flights

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  • by barlevg (2111272) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @11:25AM (#45291457)
    Now you'll be able to read your kindle on the plane, but you still won't have to put up with the passenger next to you carrying on a loud phone conversation (save, maybe voip?).
    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      but you still won't have to put up with the passenger next to you carrying on a loud phone conversation

      Yeah, but now us old hams can chat up the "local" repeater and talk about our surgeries and medications and how the weather is at 30,000 feet. I'll clip onto the plane's frame for an antenna and fire up my QRP rig and have a CW conversation. It's gonna be fun.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I'm pretty sure radios capable of transmission are still a no-no.

      • Pretty sure that's covered under Part 97.11...

        97.11 Stations aboard ships or aircraft.
        (a) The installation and operation of an amateur station on a ship or aircraft must be approved by the master of the ship or pilot in command of the aircraft.
        (b) The station must be separate from and independent of all other radio apparatus installed on the ship or aircraft, except a common antenna may be shared with a voluntary ship radio installation. The station's transmissions must not cause interference to any other apparatus installed on the ship or aircraft.
        (c) The station must not constitute a hazard to the safety of life or property. For a station aboard an aircraft, the apparatus shall not be operated while the aircraft is operating under Instrument Flight Rules, as defined by the FAA, unless the station has been found to comply with all applicable FAA Rules.

        So, as long as you get permission from the pilot in command, go for it. Just like before.

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          (a) The installation and operation of an amateur station on a ship or aircraft must be approved by the master of the ship or pilot in command of the aircraft.

          Installation AND operation. Maybe clipping onto the chassis is "installation", but holding the radio in my hand next to the window isn't. Were it "installation or operation", you'd be right.

          So, as long as you get permission from the pilot in command, go for it. Just like before.

          No, actually, not like before. The pilot in command doesn't have the authority to approve use of amateur radios on board "an aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate". That's 91.21(c) [cornell.edu] of the federal aviation regulations, which just happens to be the rule that n

    • The willfully ignorant will just keep their phones turned on and when they make or receive a call they will simply say they did not understand the complex new rules.It comes from a deep rooted belief that rules simply do not apply to them, that all rules are silly.
      • by barlevg (2111272)
        I don't know what airline YOU fly, but any flight attendant on any flight I've ever been on would make the passenger hang up, and if they refused, they'd call over the sky marshal.
        • by Lumpy (12016)

          They do not do this to 1st class assholes. The airlines are afraid if upsetting them. I personally want to see the air marshall put a pistol in the guys face and take the phone.

        • by eepok (545733)

          I don't really like flying due to my height, but I *love* when this happens. I know, it's kinda cruel, but sometimes I just like seeing simple requirements enforced on those who are too cool to otherwise follow the rules.

        • by isorox (205688)

          I don't know what airline YOU fly, but any flight attendant on any flight I've ever been on would make the passenger hang up, and if they refused, they'd call over the sky marshal.

          Sky Marshall? What kind of a dictatorship do you live in?

      • by khr (708262) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:13PM (#45292065) Homepage

        that all rules are silly.

        Who believes that all rules are silly? It's only the rules people don't like that are silly. The ones that affect others are great.

        • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:26PM (#45292223)

          Who believes that all rules are silly? It's only the rules people don't like that are silly.

          No, it's rules that they don't understand that they think are silly. And evidence shows that many people who use cell phones believe there is some magic involved that carries their voice to the intended recipient. That's why back in the 90's a vocal group of idiots managed to get laws enacted [textfiles.com] to insure their privacy while using analog CDMA cell phones. After all, it was a CELL PHONE and they had every reason to expect privacy in their conversation, even though they were using RADIO to send their VOICE over the public's airwaves. Thus it became illegal, and remains illegal to this day, for the sale or import of certain kinds of radios that can receive frequencies allocated to cellular telephone services.

          • CDMA is not analog.

            And I'm confused about some of your other comments... AFAIK there are many products (expensive, mind you) that can listen in on cellular frequencies, whether analog or digital. These are used in cell phone/base station design all the time.

            • by Obfuscant (592200)

              CDMA is not analog.

              Ok. My bad.

              And I'm confused about some of your other comments... AFAIK there are many products (expensive, mind you) that can listen in on cellular frequencies,

              Yes, there are. That's why I said "certain kinds of radios". Those the public would be most likely to buy are the main target. Scanners, for example. Some "communications receivers" can receive cell frequencies, but the dealer may limit purchase to authorized government agencies (this one [aorusa.com], for example.) The key words to look for are "cellular blocked".

              The FCC could not simply ban every radio capable of receiving cell signals. That would have made it illegal for HP to sell the CDMA service moni

      • I wonder what the Doppler shift would be like? Doing CW on LEO satellites can be challenging because of this.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          LEO is a lot faster than the crusing speed of a 757. The doppler shift involved is almost completely negligible.

          Assuming the plane is moving directly away from you (maximal doppler shift) at 858km/h (typical cruise speed), with a wave speed of 'c' - you have a doppler shift of +/- 3.974975 kHz.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            More context: so the plane would be going, perhaps, 1000km/h (or 0.277km/s). Orbital velocity for LEO is 7.8 to 6.9 km/s.

            In short, that was what I would call a stupid question.

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            LEO is a lot faster than the crusing speed of a 757. The doppler shift involved is almost completely negligible.

            Assuming the plane is moving directly away from you (maximal doppler shift) at 858km/h (typical cruise speed), with a wave speed of 'c' - you have a doppler shift of +/- 3.974975 kHz.

            That's hardly what I'd call 'completely negligible'. I don't know about cell phones, but the radio telephones I work with are allocated something like 7.5kHz each, so with a doppler shift of 4kHz you'd be stomping on the next channel alongside.

          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            4 kHz is wider than the standard SSB radio signal, and a significant fraction of the modern 11k0f3e (11kHz wide FM analog) channels being used commercially. It is negligible for the standard AM radios in aviation use, and for any wideband Wifi system.
            • by X0563511 (793323)

              Sorry, I'm used to VHF/UHF voice operation on 2-meter - a .004 difference isn't all that bad and would still be entirely functional - the service/band that I'm talking about is not channelized.

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                Sorry, I'm used to VHF/UHF voice operation on 2-meter - a .004 difference isn't all that bad and would still be entirely functional

                That's odd. When someone tries to use my 2m repeater and they're that far off frequency, they are always distorted and usually unintelligible. When you're using a 4kHz deviation system, that means your entire signal is on one side of the passband at the receiver, and unless the receiver is really really sloppy, you're outside the passband for a large part of that signal. You're 27ppm off frequency at 144MHz. That's huge. 5ppm is considered large these days, and 2ppm is standard practice (at least for LMR).

                • by X0563511 (793323)

                  Hmm. Maybe my transceiver [yaesu.com] is just nice, but i have no reception issues when I'm 5kHz up or down - I obviously don't know how I sound, but I've had conversations before. I guess they just assumed I had a weak signal.

          • At least for GSM and UMTS radios it means that the phone will fail to camp to the base station although it may be able to remain tuned to one. Note that in order to allow phones to find them base stations are required to have a frequency precision better than 0.05 ppm - that's about 50Hz at ~ 1GHz. Phones can still camp (but slower) up to some hundred Hz difference.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:51PM (#45292451) Homepage

        This comes from people not smacking them or publicly ridiculing them. When an asshat in first class refuses to get off the phone, yelling "Hey moron! hang up the phone, are you too stupid to understand what the lady just said?" is the proper response instead of just sitting there. If there are no consequences they will never change their behavior.

    • by itsdapead (734413) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @01:07PM (#45292631)

      Now you'll be able to read your kindle on the plane,

      Its ebooks that make the no-electronics-below 10000 feet rule intolerable. I can survive for an hour* without music or twitter, but the amount of entertainment that can be extracted from the in-flight magazine, duty free catalogue, in-flight safety card, back of the 'motion discomfort' bag etc. is strictly limited. Especially if its a return flight and you memorised it all on the way out...

      *Anybody who talks about '10 minutes during takeoff and landing' is clearly flying from different airports than me...

      • So, take along a paper book to read during those times. It sucks, I know, to have to carry extra. But, you know, it's a solved problem... Maybe if you don't want to read two books at once (some people are like that), take along a trade magazine or something.

        Reminds me of the jokes about mathematicians, physicists and engineers. Whereby, the mathematicians either say, "a solution exists" (and then go back to bed, or whatever), or reduce the problem to one already solved (by tipping out the bucket of water, f

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Flying is annoying enough without someone sitting next to you babbling away on their phone the whole flight.

    • Too late, with onboard WiFi, you can already talk to people via Skype or WiFi calling.

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @11:29AM (#45291513)
    Like the war on water, it's largely been about control and government rules abetting private interests. I suppose in this case airlines and the faa and whoever the fuck else stands to make a buck off of this realized it is more profitable to let the monkeys paw their gadgets 100% of the time, instead of the usual 96%.
    • by ibwolf (126465) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @11:37AM (#45291621)

      I thinks the reason this is being revised is because this rule has inconvenienced people that have the power to do something about it (e.g. US senators). I'm sure airport security screening would be greatly improved if everyone, with no exceptions, had to go through the same type of screening.

      • Actually I think it's more to do with the fact that old PCN & GSM phones gave off quite a bit of interference (I remember my first GSM phone would cause the fire alarm bell mechanism to ring when it was finding the network or someone rang me). Most phones these days hardly use those spectrums and anyway you've still got keep the phone in flight mode.
        • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:04PM (#45291961)

          Actually I think it's more to do with the fact that old PCN & GSM phones gave off quite a bit of interference

          Which caused precisely zero plane crashes.

          Most phones these days hardly use those spectrums and anyway you've still got keep the phone in flight mode.

          Not for any evidence based reason. There are social reasons to not allow cell phones (annoys your fellow passengers when you talk loudly) but thousands of phones are turned on every single day in airplanes for the entire duration of the flight (both intentionally and not) and there has not been a single accident ever as a result. If it were actually a safety risk then the ONLY effective solution would be to ban cell phones entirely from the plane. Based on the fact they haven't done this it is not a risk factor and the FAA knows it.

          • by mythosaz (572040)

            ... thousands of phones are turned on every single day in airplanes for the entire duration of the flight (both intentionally and not) and there has not been a single accident ever as a result.

            It's true. I was part of the unpaid, secret pilot program for this for many, many years.

          • by slew (2918)

            To my knowledge, boom boxes, smoking and heavy perfume and nudists haven't caused any plane accidents, and there currently social reasons to ban them as they can be quite annoying and might (in the case of smoking) cause future health problems.

            As for cell phone situation, it's a similar situation (and if there may EM-o-phobes that would complain about sitting next to someone with a cell-phone causing them future health problems).

            It's just a function of the times what we ban and don't ban. Right now everyon

            • When did they ban perfume? Last time I flew was about 2 years ago, and I remember one woman who seemed to have spent the night before marinading in the same nasty ostensibly sunflower-scented old lady perfume that my grandmother wore.

              I really, really hate flying...

    • by dicobalt (1536225) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @11:47AM (#45291763)
      Damn water. It doesn't know whether it want's to be an acid or base. Always flip flopping on the issue.
      • Too much? You drown and die. Too little? You dehydrate and die. We clearly are the problem here, having a love-hate relationship with it. The TSA can hardly be faulted for that. We just need to make up our mind on it. Besides, if you want water, take a fucking boat! AIR plane, not waterplane!
    • You're half right, the rules were bullshit but it's because of Air Rage. Some idiot blabbing on their phone next to you throughout the flight a few inches from your head would lead to more air rage incidents. That's why the new rules say that making calls specifically is not allowed, in addition to disabling radio functions.

    • by isorox (205688)

      Like the war on water, it's largely been about control and government rules abetting private interests. I suppose in this case airlines and the faa and whoever the fuck else stands to make a buck off of this realized it is more profitable to let the monkeys paw their gadgets 100% of the time, instead of the usual 96%.

      20 minutes from door close to takeoff, another 5 to 10k feet
      10 minutes from 10k feet to landing, another 10 to the terminal

      That's about 45 minutes per flight, or a good 15% of even a medium flight. If you're hopping around on short flights over half the flight will be "no electronics", which nowadays means "no books".

      If this ruling is applied by the CAA in the UK, I will gain about 50 hours a year of time I can spend reading. That is a massive win.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        If this ruling is applied by the CAA in the UK, I will gain about 50 hours a year of time I can spend reading. That is a massive win.

        If you went to bed just ten minutes later each evening, you'd gain more than 60 hours of reading time each year. If you read paper books instead of abandoning that simple technology, you'd still have your 50 hours.

        You're incorrect for counting the 10 minutes "to the terminal" after landing. You can turn on your cell phone as soon as you land, at least in the US, and I seem to remember that announcement on non-US flights I've been on. (But that's not an Ebook like I'm restricting myself to using!) You can

    • Be thankful it's only a war on water. If TSA and the public realize one could hide explosives in body cavities, it would be a war on your anus.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I haven't bothered in years

    If my thoughtlessness would doom 150 people and a multimillion dollar jet airplane, the airlines have bigger problems on their hands

    I always enjoy hearing my text message notification tone going off when the plane is in the early or final stages of takeoff/landing. The air bitches, I mean, maids, I mean stewardesses must really get pissed, but they're strapped into their chairs at that point.

  • by the_skywise (189793) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @11:53AM (#45291837)

    If you'll please pay attention to our safety demonstration and procedures speech...

    >pewpewpew

    • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @12:08PM (#45292015)

      If you'll please pay attention to our safety demonstration and procedures speech...

      You mean the one where they explain how to use a seatbelt for everyone who hasn't been in a car in the last 40 years?

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        You mean the one where they explain how to use a seatbelt for everyone who hasn't been in a car in the last 40 years?

        No kidding. People who fly a lot don't listen anyway.

        Seatbelts work thusly, popcorn lights on the floor, nearest exit may be behind you (already noted before I sat down), location of the lavs and reminder of the smoke detectors, my stuff under the seat in front of me or stowed in the hatch, air mask may fall (may not inflate, put on mine first before rendering assistance), safety card in fro

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Most cars are "press to release" Most planes are "pull to release" Someone with 40 years experience in cars might be confused by the airplane seatbelt clasp.
        • by sjbe (173966)

          Most cars are "press to release" Most planes are "pull to release" Someone with 40 years experience in cars might be confused by the airplane seatbelt clasp.

          Seriously, have you EVER seen anyone have a problem figuring out the seat belt on a plane who is over the age of 5? If you say yes I'm going to call you a liar. I've been flying for decades and NO ONE has any problems figuring this out.

          If you are a supposedly competent adult and can't figure out the seat belt on a plane, we don't need you.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            Ah, the standard Slashdot "you are right". Abuse and a complete change of argument.

            You implied that car belts make one an expert at aviation belts. I pointed out they work in unrelated manners. And yes, I've seen someone ring the call button to get help working the seatbelt. She was so old, she probably calls for assistance for using the toilet as well, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
      • by isorox (205688)

        If you'll please pay attention to our safety demonstration and procedures speech...

        You mean the one where they explain how to use a seatbelt for everyone who hasn't been in a car in the last 40 years?

        You'll notice how the majority of seatbelts in the majority of classes do not act like a car seatbelt. In emergencies, people tend to forget that, and rely on their muscle memory of "push button, seatbelt opens", rather than "lift flap, seatbelt opens"

        Now some of us use airline seatbelts more than car seatbelts, so maybe in those cases it could be skipped, but that's a pretty small minority.

  • I've used my phone during a flight before and turned off airplane mode for shits and giggles. I wasn't able to get a signal at all. At best, I was able to hold a signal for a minute or so during take off and immediately during landing. It makes me curious as well, during 9/11 how the heck were the passengers able to make a call at those altitudes on their mobile phones?
    • They were very low to ground. That's how they got a signal.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      First, Cell towers are built with directional antennas pointed DOWN towards the ground. They are intended to only cover a small area of real estate and the antennas they use are designed to direct most of the transmit and receive sensitivity to this area. Urban cells are usually fairly small and use very directional antennas pointed down, while rural cell cites can be miles across and use antennas with wider patterns which are pointed out more, but still down. When you are in a commercial airplane, you are

  • It's easy to tell someone using a device to turn it off. How do they easily tell if the cellular radio is off? The press release says "no bars displayed". So now the flight attendant has to confirm the absence of one of the smallest icons on the screen?

    Even more crazy, this changes the very definition of "airplane mode" from "all radios off" to "cell radio off, but wifi and bluetooth radio okay". Current devices don't even have such a mode! And how many non-techies even have a clear idea of the dist

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Even more crazy, this changes the very definition of "airplane mode" from "all radios off" to "cell radio off, but wifi and bluetooth radio okay". Current devices don't even have such a mode!

      Not true, as another poster here on Slashdot corrected me a few months ago.

      Apparently, airplane mode turns them all off initially, but you can separately enable them.

      So, it turns out, you can actually put a device into airplane mode, and the re-enable wifi and bluetooth. Which to me seems to defeat the purpose, but I'm

    • Current devices don't even have such a mode!

      Sure they do. I have an old Samsung Moment (ca 2009, running Eclair) that I've was using in no-cell mode as a wifi "tablet" before I broke down and got an actual tablet.

  • Although there is a lot of talk about e-readers, tablets, phones, etc., I have not seen any mention of noise cancelling headphones. In my experience, passengers (such as me) tend to turn them on right before take off, and not turn them off until after the aircraft lands. Although they are clearly electronic devices, rarely does a flight attendant ask a passenger to turn one of these units off.

    • NC Headphones are king! The only question is if you can wear them while the attendant is giving the pre-flight lecture. I'll give them that 1 minute, that is it.
    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Last October I took a trip to a wedding on an airplane. My oldest on has Aspergers Syndrome and really dislikes loud noises, airplane engines included in that category. We got him a decent set of circumaural NC headphones. When we were getting ready to take off and the flight attendants where checking to make sure everything was off, they specifically asked if they were NC headphones and if they were off.

  • I don't fly anymore. Having to deal with morons every day who think their texts/emails/whatever are more important than having their eyes on the road, or people who randomly walk into moving traffic while talking on their phone is bad enough. Having to sit through a multi-hour flight full of people talking on their phones or bipping and bopping on their tablets would be a nightmare.

    What do you know, there is an upside to the TSA!

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @01:54PM (#45293133) Homepage Journal

    Mobile phones may still only be used in airplane mode without cellular service.

    This limitation and the tedious checkin process and the fact that airports are usually located outside of city centers make bullet trains more attractive to the business traveler than flying for trips up to about 400 miles.

    High-speed rail is also very cheap to build. The expected construction cost of $68.4 billion for California's HSR line is much lower than the alternative of building 4,295 new lane-miles of freeway for $119.0 billion plus 115 new airport gates and 4 new runways for an additional $38.6 billion, all just to move the same number of people around. When it's built and the downtown-to-downtown time between San Francisco and Los Angeles is under 3 hours (try that with flying!), people will wonder why anyone would want to fly between those two cities anymore.

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