While I’m entirely in agreement that a couple hours in flight without listening to strangers yammering on their cell phones is a *good* thing, the heart of Mike Elgan’s article is this:
Either phones and other gadgets can crash airplanes or they can’t. If they can, then we’ve got a serious problem on our hands, and airplanes need to be upgraded to protect the public safety.
What’s to stop terrorists from testing various gadgets, finding the ones with the highest levels of interferences, then turning on dozens of them at some crucial phase of flight, such as during a landing in bad weather?
If gadgets can’t crash planes, then the ban is costing billions of hours per year of lost productivity by business people who want to work in flight.
For the government to avoid knowing the answer is incredibly irresponsible.
The argument for lost productivity is, in my mind, hogwash (or, at least, of hardly any interest to me). Having a few hours away from the office is, for most of us, a good thing.
But to honestly not know whether cell phones can cause planes to crash is indeed profoundly irresponsible. If they can, then it is the responsibility of the FAA to require planes to be fixed. I’ve forgotten to turn off my cell phone on a plane. So have you. And some of you have left them on intentionally. Wouldn’t it be good to know if that’s likely to kill people?