Posts tagged: faa

The untold story behind the FAA electronics ban, according to a flight attendant

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I wish I had caught his name. I hesitate to call him African-American, because he had an accent that was probably neither. He was very soft-spoken and sprinkled his announcements with jokes. (“There is zero chance of a water landing on this flight, but if you get bored, you can can lift up your seat cushion…”)

He got to a part in the announcements where he paused, sighed, and acknowledged that we had probably heard Delta’s fanfare about lifting the electronics ban effective immediately. He sighed again, and told a story I haven’t heard in the news.

It was a myth, he said, that electronics interfered with plane navigation. They never did. But they did interfere with pilots’ headsets, causing a hiss or whine that made it hard for them to hear ground control.

The FAA can lift the ban now, he said, because modern pilots’ headsets have noise canceling systems, same idea as the Bose headphones you sometimes see passengers using.

But, he apologized, there’s a three-stage process where the FAA has to approve each airplane individually before we can play Angry Birds on takeoff. As of that date – November 5 – Delta’s main line had been approved, but not the puddle-jumpers like the one we were on. Give it a week, he said. And enjoy your flight.

Photo by “Doug” on Flickr, CC-BY-NC

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