Senator Attacks FAA Over In-Flight Electronics Restrictions

Please Turn Off Electornic Devices

Senator Claire McCaskill has attacked FAA director Michael Huerta over his “lack of direct engagement” in the discussion regarding in-flight electronics restrictions.

The Senator is in the midst of proposing a new bill that would allow for increased use of cellphones, tablets, music players, and other electronic devices. The new bill would allow for electronics use during flight and also during and before takeoff and landing.

In her letter, Senator McCaskill writes, “Simply put, electronic devices that are currently allowed above 10,000 feet should be allowed for use during all phases of flight. It is preposterous to think that an e-reader in a passenger’s hands during takeoff is any more a threat to other passengers or crew members than a hardback book.”

This is not the first time Senator McCaskill has gone on the offensive against the FAA and director Michael Huerta. In December, McCaskill noted that flight crews are allows to use their electronic devices during flight. Flight crews use “electronic flight bags” to replace massive amounts of paperwork from informational bulletins and flight instructions.

Responding to the Senator in February, Huerta said the Federal Aviation Administration is currently in a phase of comment collection from aviation and technology experts. The FAA also created the Aviation Rulemaking Committee, an organization meant to deliver recommendations by Summer 2013.

Following Huerta’s response, the Senator told Politico his response “…just basically said, ‘We’re in a process and we’re looking at the process.’ So the next step in the process is calling the stakeholders in ourselves and beginning to try to pull together the right legislation.”

After that interview, Senator McCaskill wrote in her FAA letter, “Ultimately, it will be up to the FAA, and you as administrator, to provide leadership, make a decision and compel the needed changes to the current rules. With this in mind, I was disappointed by the lack of commitment to the matter in your response.”

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is working with Claire McCaskill on drafting a bill to completely dispose of the old rules.

Do you think the FAA should allow electronics to be used during all stages of flight?