Tablet restrictions on airplanes may be eased soon

(CBS NEWS) -- Those who use electronic tablets may be getting a break when they flyon airplanes, as the FAA is considering loosening the restrictions ontheir use during takeoff and landing.

In the last 25years, the FAA and a number of independent testing labs have testedevery conceivable electronic device at more than 100 times their radiofrequency interference less than two feet from every cockpit instrumentyou can imagine and -- guess what? -- there's been no interference withflight control whatsoever, reports CBS News travel editor PeterGreenberg.

So the evidence for the likely coming change, which was first reported by the New York Times, has been there for quite some time.

Whatchanged things was that last year the FAA allowed some airline pilotsto use their iPads in the cockpit. That started the ball rolling towardsthe loosening of certain restrictions.

Smartphones arenot included in the consideration for looser restrictions because theiruse is governed by the FCC, and many hope that won't change, Greenbergreports.

The FAA is only going to deal with readers andtablets and maybe some other electronic devices at altitudes of belowthan 10,000 feet.

The argument has been that you couldn'tuse them below 10,000 feet, but Greenberg argues that those loweraltitudes are actually the exact time they should be allowed: belowbelow 10,000 feet, the pilot is in positive control of the airplane. Ifsomething were to happen, the pilot could actually override controls. At35,000 feet, when you're traveling nearly 600 miles an hour, any smallchange to the flaps or something similar could destroy the plane.

So there hasn't been a lot of logic in the current FAA rules, and it's finally coming home to roost, Greenberg says.

Therealways has been an overabundance of caution in these cases, but nowit's flying in the face of common sense and actual evidence.

Greenbergreports he doesn't know of a single frequent flyer who doesn't want tosit on the window seat so they can cheat. Nobody's turning their stuffoff and everybody knows it.

And every once in a while when someone brazenly ignores the rule, like Alec Baldwin infamously did, you hear about it.

People are starting to say, "This is silly. If you don't change it, I will."


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