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Every time I travel on an airplane, the stewardess forces me to shut down my iPad. I just lock it, and start using it again 5 minutes later.

I wonder why this is? Is it because I have to have my hands free if the airplane crashes? Or is there any other logical explanation?

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    $\begingroup$ They still require you to shut it down, not lock it, so the question title is a bit misleading. They're also asking you to switch off electronic devices; so I'd assume it has something to do with electricity or electromagnetics.. :) I've often heard the hands-free argument, but that doesn't hold up, as it's perfectly fine to sit and flip through the Gutenberg Bible or other heavy-weight book of your choice. $\endgroup$ – falstro Mar 3 '14 at 10:39
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    $\begingroup$ Hopefully your question will eventually be obsolete (not holding my breath though): faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=15254 $\endgroup$ – yankeekilo Mar 3 '14 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of Why aren't cell phones allowed to be used in aircraft? $\endgroup$ – Danny Beckett Mar 3 '14 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ A pilot told me that for the most part unless the laptop or pad was sitting right next to the instrument panel it would no cause any trouble. It would have to be directly in the cockpit about an inch away from the instrument. Would you really fly on a plane that if one cellular phone sitting in the back could cause you to crash would you really go. No, probably not. $\endgroup$ – Doug Hauf Mar 3 '14 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ @jwenting; anything doing electricity with any kind of frequency is emitting, you don't need an antenna for that. The point is if you're not actually trying to transmit anything, such as when your device is in flight mode, the radiated effect will be comparatively low, and from how the question was asked, I assumed the iPad would be in flight mode. $\endgroup$ – falstro Mar 3 '14 at 15:33
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Actually, they don't! Well, not always anyway.

The FAA recently issued a press release titled FAA to Allow Airlines to Expand Use of Personal Electronics. This press release allows for the use of some electronics, including iPads and similar devices, during all phases of flight,. However, it is up to each airline to change their procedures and to determine which devices can be safely used.

This is a small excerpt from the press release:

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

I flew on Jet Blue the day after that press release and they were already allowing iPads and similar devices as long as they were in airplane mode. Other airlines will follow soon I'm sure, but their manuals and procedures must be updated and approved by the FAA first.

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Originally the regulations were introduced because electronic devices ALL transmit, especially those with antennas (and an iPad has 2-3 of those built in).
That forcing people to turn them off helps keep attention at the safety briefings helps a lot. Rather than having several hundred passengers playing minecraft, reading papers, watching videos, they now have less on their mind and might actually watch that safety briefing for a change.

And of course rather than argue with every passenger who claims "but my device doesn't emit anything" and having to have 10.000 page lists of what's allowed and what isn't by product numbers, far easier to just exclude everything.

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    $\begingroup$ But having several hundred people playing sudoku, reading papers, and flipping through comic books is just fine? I don't buy it (not questioning the emission part), I don't think the platform you use to entertain your mind play a vital factor in how much you pay attention to the safety briefing. $\endgroup$ – falstro Mar 3 '14 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ interesting, never experienced that. I usually at least pretend to pay attention out of professional courtesy, but there are plenty of opportunities to ask people around me to put their stuff aside. $\endgroup$ – falstro Mar 3 '14 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ The only time I've ever seen flight crew ask pax to pay attention was when pax were in the emergency exit seating, and even then I haven't seen it much at all. I'm not the world's most frequent commercial flier, but I get in around 40 flight segments a year. $\endgroup$ – mah Mar 3 '14 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ @flyingfisch which is exactly my point... The rules are made universal for ALL electronic gadgets so they won't get into endless arguments "but mine doesn't do anything", and to be able to get people "I'm just listening to some music" to set their device aside. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Mar 7 '14 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ @jwenting "and if you do that during the safety briefing you get asked to put it aside as well..." By whom, exactly? The cabin crew are busy giving the safety demonstration and who else is there? $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Oct 21 '14 at 9:45

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