Cell Phones in Flight

CELL PHONES IN FLIGHT….Via Tyler Cowen, the funniest line of the day comes from Mike Elgan of Computerworld, in an article explaining that the feds ought to get off their butts and definitively figure out whether or not cell phones and other electronic devices are harmful to airplane avionics:

If gadgets can’t crash planes, then the ban is costing billions of hours per year of lost productivity by business people who want to work in flight.

Billions of hours! Of lost productivity! By business people torn from their cell phones for hours at a time! Give. Me. A. Break.

POSTSCRIPT: I should add that Elgan’s story is remarkably nonpersuasive. Despite the fact that I don’t like the idea of idiots sitting next to me chattering on their cell phones for hours on end, I basically agree that the feds ought to figure out whether cell phones really are dangerous or not. And yet, after reading his story, he’s convinced me that there really are serious problems involved; that it really would be expensive to fix; and that it would be almost impossible to roll out the fix cleanly. Are flight attendants supposed to be able to figure out on a case-by-case basis whether someone is using a safe cell phone or a dangerous one? Will cell phones be allowed on some airplanes but not others? Is it really worth it to spend billions of dollars to usher in this brave new world? I’m less convinced now than I was before I read Elgan’s piece.