Nick Bilton put the FAA's claims regarding Kindles and airline avionics to the test. The result? They emit less EM interference than planes are required by law to withstand.
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."
We always knew that if gadgets were really a threat to avionics, we would not be allowed to bring them into the cabin at all. We know that many travelers keep on using them anyway, on the sly. Thanks to Bilton, the bare lie shines through a little brighter. But it leaves the question: why do these institutions insist on clinging to this particular line of security nonsense?
It's as it the standards in use were defined by some bureaucratic committee in the mists of history, rather than any reasonable application of the science involved.
I always suspected that these rules are a vestigial tail of policies contrived to protect the old racket of in-air phone calls and paid in-flight entertainment. Though the market for that stuff is dead, the rules lumber on.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to have my tinfoil hat steamed.