» But there’s a major downside: Because the FAA is so entwined with the kind of red tape only a complicated government organization could invent, if things are decided a certain way, it could force some crazy rules before an airline could allow such devices. For example — just for the right to allow the iPad on their plane, the current standards would force each airline to test each version of a device in a plane by itself (i.e. no passengers) to make sure everything was OK. If that sounds like an insane waste of money, that’s basically how the airlines feel.
ohheybill asks: Well, anyone who's been on a plane will know that flight attendants don't make the pilot turn the whole plane around at the first sign of tweeting. They tell you to turn it off. Baldwin escalated it rather than comply. I disagree with the policy too, but not to the point where I'm willing to make a complete ass of myself and inconvenience a whole planefull of people. If you or I were to do this, we'd be seen as a crazy a-hole. Alec Baldwin is practically getting endorsement deals out of it.
» SFB says: Sometimes you just have to laugh at things like this, rather than getting offended. Clearly, this doesn’t happen often. But you have to admit, there’s something funny about Alec Baldwin getting kicked off a plane for playing Words With Friends. The absurd nature of it is why it’s great to make jokes about it. That’s the path we’ve chosen. — Ernie @ SFB
» At least he wasn’t flying while drunk, right? After being a pilot for Eastern Airlines for 25 years, Randy Babbitt became the Federal Aviation Administration’s head in 2009. This weekend, he was arrested for driving on the wrong side of the road in Fairfax, Va. He has since asked for a leave of absence from his office.
falconieri asks: I would also imagine that airlines WANT you to buy your stuff. Your movies and entertainment. Last plane I was on headphones from 1949 were still $8.
» SFB says: To some degree this is true, but on the other hand, it’s not like they’re without options. (Plus, the FAA arguably doesn’t have jurisdiction over business motives like this.) Do you know how much they charge for wi-fi on some flights? That certainly makes up for the headphones. And on top of this, they could totally run a Starbucks-style closed network with free Netflix or something, and sell ads against it. They have options. — Ernie @ SFB
Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn’t allow passengers to board a plane with an iPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists.New York Times reporter Nick Bilton • Going in for the kill with his story regarding the use of electronic devices on planes — specifically, why can’t they be used as a plane’s taking off or landing? According to FAA spokesperson Les Dorr, the agency chooses to err on the side of caution, despite evidence that the usage of electronic devices have no effect on a plane. “There have never been any reported accidents from these kinds of devices on planes,” Dorr said, reluctantly. So, why the policy? Good question. source (via • follow)
They talk a lot about jobs. They give good speeches about it. I want them to walk the walk. Put hard-working Americans to work so they can get a paycheck just like Congress is receiving on their vacations.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood • Offering up some harsh words on the situation with the FAA shutdown, which will likely last a more than a month due to Congress’ August recess. LaHood, a former Republican congressman, notes that “safety is not compromised” but this is mostly a labor issue. One reason this has become such a political football is that, behind the scenes, it’s a bit of a proxy battle over unions — see, the National Mediation Board made it easier for these workers to unionize, if they so choose. This was part of the reason a short-term deal got blocked — Sen. Orrin Hatch wasn’t having it. Ultimately, it’s the same thing we said yesterday — a business should pay its employees instead of squabbling over minor issues. source (via • follow)
» People are working for free to inspect airports: After financing for the Federal Aviation Administration ran out on July 23, thousands of people were put out of work, and all over a fairly minor issue that has gummed up the Senate — how (or if) to pay for a subsidy program for rural airports. But that issue isn’t going to go anywhere for at least a month, after both chambers took their August recess. We know that the debt ceiling fight was tough and took a lot out of the politicians who solved that issue, but this seems like something that should’ve been dealt with before they hit the gavel and took vacations. This is not a judicial nomination. This is airport safety we’re talking about. Some talk about running the government like a business — well, here’s a secret, guys. Businesses don’t furlough workers over a disagreement that those workers have no control over, then ask them to work for free. Businesses pay workers.
» Some hard numbers: Our whole grumbling about air traffic controllers being the new sharks did get us curious about whether there were actually more errors among air traffic controllers. But USA Today beat us to the research back in February. Their findings? Incidents involving air traffic controllers are up 81 percent since 2007, from 1,040 to 1,887 in 2010. More serious incidents — which we’re assuming “sleeping on the job” includes — are up 26 percent over the same period, from 34 to 43. Not to say air traffic controllers shouldn’t be incredibly good at their jobs, but considering that we’re still talking about less than 2,000 incidents nationwide — big or small — over an entire year suggests at least some degree of overreaction.