E-books are forbidden during takeoff and landing for reasons that don’t seem to add up, and which shift depending on whether you’re asking the FAA, the airlines, or experts. Instead of just picking holes in their rationales, however, Nick Bilton put them to the empirical test, having Kindles and other electronic devices’ EM output measured in the lab. The result? They put out less EM interference than avionics are required by law to withstand:
The F.A.A. requires that before a plane can be approved as safe, it must be able to withstand up to 100 volts per meter of electrical interference. When EMT Labs put an Amazon Kindle through a number of tests, the company consistently found that this e-reader emitted less than 30 microvolts per meter when in use. That’s only 0.00003 of a volt.
“The power coming off a Kindle is completely minuscule and can’t do anything to interfere with a plane,” said Jay Gandhi, chief executive of EMT Labs, after going over the results of the test. “It’s so low that it just isn’t sending out any real interference.”
We always knew that if gadgets were really a threat to avionics, we would not be allowed to bring them into the cabin, period. We know that many travelers just keep on using them anyway on the sly, and don’t get caught. Thanks to Bilton, the bare lie shines through a little brighter. But it leaves the question: why do these institutions insist on clinging to this particular line of security nonsense?
It’s as it the standards in use were defined by some bureaucratic committee in the mists of history, rather than any reasonable application of the science involved.
I always suspected that this was really the uncontrollable metastasis of policies designed to protect their little 1990s racket of in-air phone calls and on-flight entertainments. Though the market for that stuff is dead, the peripheral justifications lumber on in vestigial form. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to have my tinfoil hat steamed.
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Report: Kindle produces nearly no electrical interference. FAA: “LALALALALA”