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03 May 2012

Bird Strikes and the FAA Rules on Passenger Electronics

On April 19, 2012, Delta Flight 1063, a 757 flying nonstop from JFK Airport in New York to Los Angeles, was forced to return to JFK and make an emergency landing after its right engine experienced a bird strike shortly after takeoff.

One of the passengers, New York Times bestseller Grant Cardone, happen to have been using his iPad to make a video when he caught a glimpse of the flock of birds involved in the strike.

Grant Cardone video of bird strike

Cardone caught the incident on his iPad, despite the fact that electronic devices like iPads are supposed to be turned off during that part of the flight.

The video has gotten Cardone in trouble with the FAA and he's recently received a warning letter letting him know that a record of his rule infringement will be kept for two years. The letter reportedly stated that the FAA will not penalize Cardone so long as he has no other infractions over the next two years.

Why the FAA approach makes no sense
The current FAA regulations on electronic devices were developed in an era when there were few, if any, personal electronic devices on board. It is a safe bet that the average passenger has more than one device with them when they travel. The chance that a frequent flyer will forget to turn off an iPhone, Kindle, iPad, laptop, video game, etc. at least once is likely close to 100%.

Instead of sending threatening letters, it would make much more sense for the FAA to get together with the aviation industry and the flying public and create a set of new regulations that take into account both common sense and the reality that electronic devices will likely become much more popular in airline cabins. This is a point of view emphasized by creator Dr. Todd Curtis in a May 3, 2012 interview on Washington, DC radio station WTOP.

Related information
Using personal electronic devices in flight
Bird strik hazards to aircraft
WTOP interview with Dr. Curtis on May 3, 2012
Protecting your laptop when you fly


  1. The rule seems even stranger in light of the fact that the pilots are most likely using iPADs in the cockpit to view their SIDs and STAR departure plates.

  2. The Faa should be aware on the pilots to, because they always have cameras on the cockpit recoding taking off and landingso whats de different ah..For the passenger and the pilots should be the same rule the rope has to break equal for both side