FAA review of portable electronics policies is good news for gamers

iphone pocket planes faa gamers flying

That stewardess politely asked you to turn off your Nintendo DS. She doesn’t care that Pichu is evolving, you have to turn off the DS. You refused and made a scene.

The number of situations in which you absolutely need to keep your iPhone on while waiting to take off on a plane is slim. Are you a secret agent? Are you Face Timing it up with the UN Security Council, trying to resolve a hostage situation while sitting in coach? No. You’re playing Cut the Rope and checking Facebook.

This is why the Federal Airline Administration is reviewing its policies on electronics and when they can be turned on.

As reported on Tuesday,  a group of pilots, flight attendants, plane makers, tech companies, and plane manufacturers will meet this fall to determine what devices can be used safely during taxi, take off, and landing. They’ll report back to the FAA in 6 months with decisions on what electronics can be used safely without interfering with cockpit operation. Phones will still be banned from use in flight, but tablets, e-readers, and gaming machines will likely be freed up from current restrictions.

“We’re looking for information to help air carriers and operators decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today’s aircraft,” said FAA director Michael P. Huerta in a statement, “We also want solid safety data to make sure tomorrow’s aircraft designs are protected from interference.”

A survey conducted by the Atmosphere Research Group found that of 2,530 airline passengers travelling in 2012, 67 percent owned a smartphone and 35 percent owned a tablet. That’s not even considering laptop owners, portable gaming devices, e-readers or the lowly, fading MP3 player. All of these devices were made long after the blanket ban was put into effect. Originally the FAA instituted the rule because of rare cases when cellular phones caused radio interference in the cockpit.

The FAA has some ridiculous, byzantine rules. For example, there is no good reason for everyone to take off their shoes in the security line. That is just stupid. People shouldn’t really need to shut down their Nintendo 3DS either. Retro gamers rocking a Game Boy? Don’t worry about it.

Still, you should stop complaining. Flight attendants have hard jobs and you do not need to be entertained at all times. Turn off your phone. Facebook will still be there when you get back.

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