The 60 million iPads expected sold by the end of 2012 -- and 40 million other tablets -- may be allowed to fly during takeoff and landing, according to an FAA spokesperson.
Laura J. Brown told the New York Times' tech blog, Bits, that the FAA would take "a fresh look" at how the administration approaches the near-ubiquitous consumer tablets.
Just think of the trees saved by not having to load up on magazines at the airport book store.
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Testing will begin soon on various gadgets and if they would interfere with anything the pilots might need to safely fly. The last testing was done in 2006 -- long before the launch of the iPad.
Until now, airlines were expected to do the extensive -- and expensive -- testing of electronic devices and how they effect avionics. But they haven't (see: it's expensive). So the FAA is stepping in to do it itself.
To test an airline would have to fly a plane empty of passengers and test each iteration of a product. So the first three versions of the iPad would be tested separately, on three flights. With no paying customers. Then they'd have to do the same with the Kindle, etc.
Of course, just because the FAA says they'll do it doesn't mean they'll be quick about it. Say hello to bureaucratic red tape.