O.M.G. Please, let this be true.
Yes, you read that correctly. The F.A.A., which in the past has essentially said, “No, because I said so,” is going to explore testing e-readers, tablets and certain other gadgets on planes. The last time this testing was done was 2006, long before iPads and most e-readers existed. (The bad, or good, news: The F.A.A. doesn’t yet want to include the 150 million smartphones in this revision.)
Ms. Brown said that the administration’s current rules allow airlines to request use of electronic devices “once the airline demonstrated the devices would not interfere with aircraft avionics.”
Airlines have not done this because it is a expensive and laborious affair.
So, likely bowing to public pressure, the F.A.A. has decided to take this initiative into its own hands and is going to figure out a way to start testing new electronics on airplanes.
As Ms. Brown said: “With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft.”
Though the testing regime seems ridiculous (and impossible to satisfy!):
Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, explained that the current guidelines require that an airline must test each version of a single device before it can be approved by the F.A.A. For example, if the airline wanted to get approval for the iPad, it would have to test the first iPad, iPad 2 and the new iPad, each on a separate flight, with no passengers on the plane.
It would have to do the same for every version of the Kindle. It would have to do it for every different model of plane in its fleet. And American, JetBlue, United, Air Wisconsin, etc., would have to do the same thing. (No wonder the F.A.A. is keeping smartphones off the table since there are easily several hundred different models on the market.)
Ms. Lunardini added that Virgin America would like to perform these tests, but the current guidelines make it “prohibitively expensive, especially for an airline with a relatively small fleet that is always in the air on commercial flights like ours.”
Get on this FAA!