Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri may have only won reelection due to her terrible opponent (Todd Akin, one of the two Republicans who couldn't shut up about rape-induced pregnancy), but if she is successful in her next campaign, she may become the most popular legislator in the country: McCaskill wants you to be able to keep your laptops and smart phones on and connected to the internet during flights, even takeoff and landing.
She added, "and this must be done within ten days to accomodate Owen Poindexter."
That is, I'm sure she would have if she knew me. In a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, McCaskill said the fear of interference from electronic devices (the cited reason for current "turn off at takeoff" rules) is "dated at best."
"As you surely know, the public is growing increasingly skeptical of prohibitions on the use of many electronic devices during the full duration of a flight, while at the same time using such devices in increasing numbers," she wrote. "For example, a traveler can read a paper copy of a newspaper throughout a flight, but is prohibited from reading the same newspaper for major portions of the flight when reading it on an e-reader.
I was not aware of the growing public skepticism around these regulations, but McCaskill would know better than me. I do think we can all agree that the public would find it delightful if these rules went away (and the take your shoes off at security thing. When can we stop doing that?). Really, it shouldn't matter what the public thinks. If the annoying rules save a single life, then by all means let's keep them. McCaskill, however, does offer a compelling piece of evidence:
"Importantly, such anachronistic policies undermine the public’s confidence in the FAA, thereby increasing the likelihood that rules of real consequence will be given too little respect," McCaskill continued. "The absurdity of the current situation was highlighted when the FAA acted earlier this year to allow tablet computers to replace paper flight manuals in the cockpit, further enhancing the public’s skepticism about the current regulations."
Well if the pilot can use a tablet, then I want to too! Realistically, there's a difference between one or two tablets in the cockpit and 150 on in the cabin, but I am hoping with irrational force that McCaskill is right and gets her way here.