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article imageOp-Ed: FAA isn't making airplane seats home offices

By Robert Weller     Oct 31, 2013 in Technology
The most essential ingredient in making a home office work is communication with the outside world. By that definition allowing mobile phones on airplanes doesn’t make a passenger seat an office.
The fact that the Federal Aviation Administration is allowing some phone use but blocking calls is getting the most attention in the media, but is not the key issue.
These days mobile phones come equipped with an “airplane” selection in their settings.
That means the device cannot send out location services, provide the cookies needed to tell your favorite newspaper that you have paid for it, and in general makes it about as useful as conventional phone that is not plugged into a wall jack.
“Airplane mode is a setting on many cellphones which disables their wireless communication abilities, theoretically making them approved for use on aircraft. While in airplane mode, a phone cannot send or receive phone calls, text messages, picture messages, or video messages, and the user may not browse the Internet on the phone or use Bluetooth® devices with it. However, functions like music players, games, calendars, and so forth can continue to be used,” reports the wiseGeek Website.
The issue is airplane navigational safety. Transmissions from mobile phones could interfere with aircraft and airport navigational systems.”
Depending on your source, mobile or cell phones have only been responsible for a handful of incidents on aircrafts, or they have been responsible for hundreds.
Could active mobile phones on airplanes be used some way to detonate an explosive?
Airlines can offer wi-fi on the planes, which would eliminate most risks, but to say it would be invulnerable to terrorists would be a stretch.
The chairman of the Senate committee that oversees transportation, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, urged caution on moving ahead with the FAA decision.
“Having access to e-mail or a movie is not worth compromising the safety of any flight," Rockefeller said in a statement.
"While today's ruling is an added convenience for consumers, we must keep in mind that safety is always our foremost concern when making improvements to the passenger experience on flights," Rockefeller continued.
The only major change announced Thursday was that these devices can be left on during landings and takeoffs. Even that is limited because in many cases passengers will have been made to store them during landings and takeoffs.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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