Oy – talk about being stuck in the dark ages … A few days ago Grant Cardone filmed a bird strike on his iPad that caused his Delta flight to make emergency landing (link). In response the FAA decided to send out a warning letter indicating that a fine could be levied and that Mr. Cardone could be banned from flying.  In response Mr. Cadone made the following observation “”If truly these devices, phones, iPads are that dangerous, the FAA has a responsibility to ban them from planes”.

There have been numerous studies done that show current cell phone and portable device technology are not dangerous to flights (link). Rather than admitting that the existing regulations are based on concerns raised when cell phones and other electronic devices shared the same frequency spectrum over 30 years ago, the FAA has simply perpetuated a myth that is no longer supportable by fact.

There is a very simple and easy way to clearly show how innocuous today’s technology is on avionics. If these devices were truly dangerous to passenger safety then why are there no reports of al-Qaeda booking a half dozen first class seats with 2-3 iPhones each and just leaving the devices on during take-off? Why – because if it were that easy al-Qaeda would be doing that type of thing all over the world at this point.

Beyond this bit of silliness however is the fact that internal portable devices embedded into planes for entertainment purposes, that work on similar frequencies to portable devices by the way, put out potentially far more interference than some kid playing Angry Birds on his iPad. If you look around a plane carefully you will notice all kinds of different things in use that are as dangerous if not more dangerous than some mobile device.

I have yet to be on a plane where, despite the “attendant’s instructions”, a least a half dozen people around me aren’t fiddling with some sort of device without consequence.  Beyond that, whenever I have had the opportunity to fly first class – there has NEVER been a case where a first class passenger has been asked to turn off their devices despite obvious and blatant use of such devices during take off and landings.

Really – how many letters of this type are sent to First Class passengers, a market segment that makes up 1/3 of airline passenger revenues. (<== notice – not a question as you can probably already guess the answer). Mr. Cardone’s likely only failing was that he was travelling cattle like the rest of us poor SOBs rather than paying for a first class ticket.

So – What is your point?

I guess the point is this. Quite often corporate cultures get into a tailspin over policies and procedures that no longer meet the times. Rather than looking at the circumstances to see if maybe something has changed (which in this case something major has changed in terms of the underlying technology), it becomes simpler to blame individuals who are simply following the direction the rest of society has set in terms of social norms.

Give people the ability to have anywhere, anytime access to audio and video recording and instant 4G access to the Internet and they are going to use it. And that is going to create a whole pile of new moral and ethical dilemmas that we as a society are going to need time to adapt to. Trying to subvert society by criminalizing normal behavioural patterns only drive resentment and deep needs to find ways to use technology in a way that is natural.

So all those cases of bus drivers texting while driving, or subway operators, or whatever else — we need to get use to this because the behaviours of capturing those activities and bringing them to the forefront of public awareness is what drives our ability to constantly make society better. It opens dialogue. It lays plain issues. It exposes what it is to be human.

We aren’t always going to get the right answer. History is fully of swings in moral and ethical behaviour from one extreme to the other. The sexual attitude of today compared to 100 years ago are a prime example of this. I mean – really – when was the last time you went to a good crucifixion? The point thou is that without the opportunity to challenge what we think is correct, we have no opportunity to grow and innovate.

Whenever we come across a situation like this, one of the first questions we should be asking ourselves is: Am I doing this because it is the right thing to do – or am I doing it simply because that is the way things have always been done? If you are doing it for the latter – then maybe its time someone had a good hard look around to see how out of touch you are with reality.

Just because something is justified, doesn’t make it right.

— Kevin Feenan



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