Even Government Officials Think It's Dumb That We Can't Use iPads During Takeoff

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 7 2012 3:14 PM

Even the FCC Thinks It's Dumb That We Have To Turn Off Electronic Devices During Takeoff

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski takes a stand on behalf of common sense.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Based on no evidence whatsoever, the Federal Aviation Administration for years has required airplane passengers to turn off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Let the record show that the long list of people who think this is stupid now includes the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski.

The Hill's Jennifer Martinez obtained a letter that Genachowski sent on Thursday to Michael Huerta, acting administrator of the FAA, urging him to at least allow passengers to keep using their Kindles and iPads. (The FAA is currently reviewing its policies on electronic devices, though it preemptively announced that it would not consider allowing voice communications.) The step to allow tablets seems all the more common-sensical given that pilots themselves now use iPads as flight manuals. Here's how Genachowski's letter begins, according to a copy obtained by the New York Times' Nick Bilton

Dear Administrator Huerta:
I write to urge the FAA to enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable electronic devices during flight, consistent with public safety. I support the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) initiative to review the polices, guidance, and procedures regarding the use of such devices. 
This review comes at a time of tremendous innovation, as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives. They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness.
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There! You see? This policy isn't just annoying, it's killing our economy. Now can we change the stupid rule?

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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