NY Times’ Nick Bilton Tackles “Electronic Disruption” on Aircraft

On Christmas, the New York Times’ Nick Bilton wrote a column addressing the claims by the Federal Aviation Administration (“Disruptions: Norelco on Takeoff? Fine. Kindle? No.“) and the airlines that certain electronic devices disrupt the aircraft’s critical navigation systems during takeoff and landing.

Mr. Bilton points out that electronics that are allowed to be used, electric shavers, for example, emit more electricity than a Kindle does.  Moreover, he points out, you cannot add up all of the electricity emitted by all of the electronic devices on an aircraft because “electromagnetic energy doesn’t add up like that . . . if it added up like that, people wouldn’t be able to go into offices, where there are dozens of computers, without wearing protective gear.”

The conclusion of the piece is summed up by Mr. Bill Ruck, principal engineer at CSI Telecommunications:  “the only reason these rules exist from the F.A.A. is because of agency inertia and paranoia.”  While that is certainly true of electronic devices on aircraft, it is also true of a whole host of FAA regulations that have no basis in logic, reason or science.

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