According to research by The New York Times, the Amazon Kindle is safe for airplane takeoffs and landings yet is prohibited by the Federal Aviation Administration unless planes are at or near cruising altitude. Lab test show that electronic emissions of a Kindle is negligible, and in some cases less that some devices that are currently allowed.
In the US it is illegal to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing of an airplane, with a few exceptions, such as electric shavers, voice recording devices and health related electronics. Laptops, mobile phones, e-readers are considered to emit too much electronic interference and must be powered down before takeoff and landing. NYTimes decided to put some devices to the test to find out what the real danger is:
Gadgets are tested by monitoring the number of volts per meter coming off a device. The F.A.A. requires that before a plane can be approved as safe, it must be able to withstand up to 100 volts per meter of electrical interference.
When EMT Labs put an Amazon Kindle through a number of tests, the company consistently found that this e-reader emitted less than 30 microvolts per meter when in use. That’s only 0.00003 of a volt.
“The power coming off a Kindle is completely minuscule and can’t do anything to interfere with a plane,” said Jay Gandhi, chief executive of EMT Labs, after going over the results of the test. “It’s so low that it just isn’t sending out any real interference.”
The testing of a voice recorder, which is allowed during takeoff and landing, resulted in just as much and sometimes slightly more electrical emissions than the Kindle.The article does not mention the version of the Kindle used in the test or if Wi-Fi or 3G was running.
Earlier this month the FAA approved the use of iPads by pilots in the cockpit during flights, including takeoffs and landings, in an effort to save paper. According to ZDNet the FAA tested the iPad for six months and determined it is safe for all phases of flight.
The average person might assume that the electrical emissions from one or two iPads in the cockpit are less of a concern than having a few dozen tablets and e-readers in the cabin all interfering with the plane’s controls. However, an engineer explained to the NYTimes reporter that it doesn’t work like that, emissions are not proportional. Otherwise, if every electronic device added to emissions people would not be able enter offices stocked with computers without wearing protective gear.
The reason why tablet devices are prohibited by the FAA during takeoffs and landings is still a mystery.