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FAA's Impossibly Slow Process of Allowing 'Gate to Gate' Gadget Use Moves Forward

June 21, 2013 at 4:13 PM | by | Comments (0)

A year and a half ago the FAA disclosed that agency officials were maybe thinking about relaxing the rules that ban fliers from using electronics during takeoffs and landings. Six months after that, they got around to actually starting to think about it. Six months after that, the FCC asked them what the hell was taking so long.

And now, six months after that, we come to this morning's Wall Street Journal story about how a panel has written a draft proposal suggesting that the FAA should consider permitting so-called "gate-to-gate electronics use." Except not for cell phones. And except "details are still being debated by the group and inside the FAA and could change." And except the FAA can't make a decision until the draft proposal becomes a final proposal.

To think, there are people out there who suggest government bureaucrats are inefficient.

Right now the use of electronics is banned below 10,000 feet. Also right now, nobody cares. So few people care, in fact, that the lack of caring is one of the reasons that the FAA is acting. Apparently one-third of passengers claim to have accidentally - "accidentally" - forgotten to turn off their devices during a flight. It happens to us all the time. We're constantly forgetting to turn off our gadget (we're absent-minded like that: we also forget to take out our earbuds).

In any case, the changes will eventually happen. There's no reason not to allow tablet use while a plane is taxiing. When the shift actually occurs, on the other hand, is an open question.

We'd like to remind everyone that the United States is a country that went to the moon decades ago. We're now entering the second half of year 2 of trying to figure out whether it's OK for little Timmy to keep playing Words With Friends while a plane rolls across a runway. Something seems to have gone awry.

[Photo: Jetstar Airways / Flickr]

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