What happens when Amazon loads a plane full of Kindles that operate during takeoff and landing?

September 10th, 2012

Absolutely nothing. Well, other than people remaining productive during those unbearable 30 minutes or so from the moment the plane closes its doors till the plane reaches cruising altitude, and when the plane begins its descent until it touches down.

Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, told me the company had done its own tests on its Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets to help hasten the changes. “We’ve done experiments,” he said. “We loaded a plane with Kindles.”

I asked what happened in the experiments. He looked at me as if I were asking the dumbest question he had ever heard. “Everybody landed,” he said. “It wasn’t a problem.”

Mr. Bezos said Amazon had submitted the results and was waiting to hear back from the F.A.A. But, he said, “They’ve got a process.”

I’m also glad to see that airlines are willing to help the FAA in their reconsideration of the arcane policy that is one of my most loathed regulations.

Some airlines, including JetBlue and Virgin America, have notified the F.A.A. of their willingness to help, too.

But the current system of testing electronics devices will most likely have to change before gadgets can be used during takeoff and landing. The agency’s rules state that an airline must test each iteration of a device on each type of plane, without passengers, before it can be approved.

“With individual testing needed for every version of every electronic device out there, it’s practically impossible for an airline to take on the testing independently, so we’re pleased the F.A.A. is evaluating it and taking steps in that direction,” said Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America. She said changing the rules would make flying more enjoyable for Virgin America passengers.

“We are keen to help in any way we can,” said Jamie Perry, director of product development at JetBlue. “The current situation is not working for customers, for airlines or for the F.A.A.”

No, it is not working for me.

Update: The FAA has approved American Airlines to replace all reference manuals with iPads. And yes, these iPads can be used during takeoff and landing. Please FAA, let me use my tablet too.