Ever wondered why airlines make you turn off all portable electronic devices before takeoff and landing? You’re not alone. Here’s the real story behind why.
Decades ago the FAA worried that our gadgets might interfere with avionics—the electronic systems that control everything from navigation to steering. So, they made a rule: turn them off below 10,000 feet, before cruising altitude.
That way, if the devices’ collective interference caused a problem, the crew would have time and focus to respond.
But above 10,000 feet, we’ve been allowed to use laptops, MP3 players and readers. And there’s virtually no evidence that they’ve ever caused a mechanical problem, let alone an accident.
Some airlines even encourage pilots to use iPads in the cockpit—so that tells you something about their safety
Recently, the FAA has said it would reassess the rules on using personal electronic devices. But these things move at a glacial pace, so don’t hold your breath.
And keep in mind that smartphones and other cellular devices aren’t part of the equation, since that’s under the FCC’s jurisdiction. And remember that no matter how absurd you might think the rules are, always follow flight crew instructions.
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