The FAA wants to “take a fresh look” at rewriting the rules on electronic gadget usage on planes. How many flights equals “a fresh look?”

Artifact

Check out this NYTimes article. Apparently there’s some encouraging news for those of us with e-devices, which is everyone: the F.A.A. is going to review the rules for takeoff and landing whilst using particular electronic devices. Surprisingly it appears as if airlines could start allowing electronic devices right away but would have to test the devices themselves. But not only the devices, but, well, I’ll let you read:

Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications at Virgin America, explained that the current guidelines require that an airline must test each version of a single device before it can be approved by the F.A.A. For example, if the airline wanted to get approval for the iPad, it would have to test the first iPad, iPad 2 and the new iPad, each on a separate flight, with no passengers on the plane.

It would have to do the same for every version of the Kindle. It would have to do it for every different model of plane in its fleet. And American, JetBlue, United, Air Wisconsin, etc., would have to do the same thing. (No wonder the F.A.A. is keeping smartphones off the table since there are easily several hundred different models on the market.)

Emphasis mine. That sounds like a lot of combinatorics and permutations to me.

Guiding Questions

  • Which kind of device would require the least/most testing?
  • Which airlines could conceivably do this in the least amount of time, with their fleet size?

A bit of research on airline fleets, a bit of googling on the different types of electronic devices (e-readers, MP3 players, etc), and you’ve got a nice permutations problem.

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