From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

DePaul Study Calls for End to FAA Electronics Ban

More and more airline travelers have their eyes and fingers glued to tablets and e-readers, according to a study released Wednesday from DePaul University, leading authors of the research to call for an end to the ban on electronic devices during takeoffs and landings.

According to the study out of the university’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, once an airplane has reached the required altitude, more than 35 percent of travelers are switching on electronic devices at any random time during the flight -- up from around 18 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the growth of tablet or e-reader usage is even higher: The research says one in nine passengers on an airplane are tapping and reading away while traveling.

Transportation expert and study author Joseph Schwieterman said for the sake of all these tech-savvy travelers and the airlines they fly, the Federal Aviation Administration needs to drop their electronics ban during takeoffs and landings.

“You know, airlines are paying big bucks to outfit their airlines with Wi-Fi and some have tablet rental programs and back-of-seat screens you can plug your devices into,” Schwieterman said, “And those devices on short flights are 50 percent useless because so much of the flight’s consumed by the ban.”

Schwieterman says the FAA hasn’t released any evidence that shows why using these devices could be risky during takeoff or landing. By his numbers, the ban is keeping airline travelers off their electronics for over 100 million hours in 2013.

Meanwhile, the FAA says they brought together a group of technical experts, aircraft manufacturers and others from the electronics industry in January to explore which forms of technology could be safe to use. Spokeswoman Alison Duquette said the group should finish their work sometime this summer, then the FAA will review the results.