Senator Threatens Legislative Action if FAA Slows Gadget Use Study

The push to allow wider in-flight electronic use on airplanes reached new heights this week, when Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill threatened to “pursue legislative solutions” if the FAA drags its feet while examining the issue.

“The fear of devices that operate on electricity is dated, at best,” McCaskill wrote in a letter to FAA head Michael Huerta. “Importantly, such anachronistic policies undermine the public’s confidence in the FAA, thereby increasing the likelihood that rules of real consequence will be given too little respect. The absurdity of the current situation was highlighted when the FAA acted earlier this year to allow tablet computers to replace paper flight manuals in the cockpit, further enhancing the public’s skepticism about the current regulations.”

McCaskill sits on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. She went on to say that the FAA needs to work on “revising or removing regulations that have become unnecessary or outdated,” while still ensuring travelers fly safe.

The Senator’s letter comes just days after FCC chairman Julius Genachowski sent a similar note Huerta’s way, asking the FAA to “enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices” in-flight.

The FAA is currently reviewing whether to revise its in-flight electronics policies; the last formal investigation was conducted way back in 2006, before the days of netbooks, slates, and Kindles. (The FAA isn’t considering allowing wider smartphone use.) Pressure from such high-ranking officials will likely accelerate the inquiry, but even if the FAA decides to approve wider gadget use on airplanes, the New York Times says that approving each and every model of each and every gadget on each and every plane type for each and every airline will likely take some time.

Via The Verge

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