Back in 2013, the FAA saw sense, and ruled that passengers can use their electronic fondleslabs during takeoff and landing. And, shortly after, the Association of Flight Attendants sued, claiming the FAA had overstepped its bounds. An appeals court just ruled against the AFA, meaning takeoff Candy Crush is here to stay.
The AFA argued that the FAA had overstepped its authority by changing policy without going through the appropriate legal steps. According to them, passengers now ignore the safety briefings in favour of smartphones (instead of rereading the directions on the puke bag), and cellphones can become dangerous projectiles in the case of turbulence.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled against the AFA on technical grounds, saying that the FAA has always had discretion regarding rules on portable electronics:
In this case, it really does not matter whether Notice N8900.240 is viewed as a policy statement or an interpretive rule. The main point here is that the Notice is not a legislative rule carrying “the force and effect of law.” Perez, 135 S. Ct. at 1204. A legislative rule “modifies or adds to a legal norm based on the agency’s own authority” flowing from a congressional delegation to engage in supplementary lawmaking. Syncor, 127 F.3d at 95.
In other words, you can breathe easy: you’re not going to have to reach for an in-flight magazine any time soon. Well, not until the plane’s Wi-Fi craps out. [Star Tribune]
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