Editorial: How FAA-certified gadgets could improve air travel and eliminate the Terrible 10,000 Feet
If you’re reading this now and have experienced the wonders of modern air travel then you have surely suffered through what I call the “Terrible 10,000 Feet.” This is the period between the clunk of the cabin door closing and the bong of the cabin indicator, the chime signifying arrival of the magic altitude where “approved electronic devices” can then be used again. The first half of the worst part of the flight is then over — the latter half to commence as soon as the plane dips again below that gadget ceiling.
This is the loudest part of the flight — engines throttled up, flaps and gear hanging in the breeze and scared kids doing their best to drown all that out with screams and shouts. It’s exactly when you most want to use your portable music player, and exactly when you aren’t allowed. We’ve been told that this is for safety reasons, to prevent interference from the myriad devices carried by a cabin full of passengers, but that’s never quite felt satisfactory to me. (Why is it okay to use those very same devices over 10,000 feet? Why can pilots use iPads but I can’t?)
So many questions, but I’m not here to second-guess the people whose jobs it is to keep me safe as I schlep myself, my roller bag and my personal item across the country yet again. I’m here to propose a very simple solution: a certification program in which manufacturers submit devices for testing and the FAA charges a (possibly hefty) fee for their approval. It could not only improve the lives of frequent travellers like myself, but could also stand to provide millions in funding to the FAA, funds that could be put toward its unfortunately named NextGen air traffic control system. Win win? Read on and decide for yourself.
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