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  • Serious Claims of iPhone Interference in 2011 Airplane Incident


    In 2011, as a regional airliner was climbing past 9,000 feet, its compasses reportedly went haywire on short notice. In a confused panic, the pilots accidentally navigated several miles off course until... an iPhone on board was finally turned off.

    Although iPhones are supposed to be turned off during takeoff and landing anyway, a flight attendant had to persuade a passenger who wasn't following the rules to turn off his iPhone.

    “The timing of the cellphone being turned off coincided with the moment where our heading problem was solved,” the co-pilot on that flight recently told NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System. Although the plane landed safely, it reinforced concerns about the role smartphones play in airline safety.

    Laboratory tests have shown some devices broadcast radio waves powerful enough to interfere with airline equipment, according to NASA, aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. (BA) and the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority.
    With passengers clamoring for expanded in-flight use of mobile technologies, this desire remains at odds with the engineers and technicians possessed of the believe that these devices could endanger all passengers on an aircraft.

    Any decision with regard to expanding or restricting mobile device usage in-flight "should be based on science, not on politics or passengers’ desires to stay connected," John Cox, a former airline pilot and safety expert, tells Bloomberg.

    Source: Bloomberg
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Serious Claims of iPhone Interference in 2011 Airplane Incident started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 53 Comments
    1. Tehfinalhack's Avatar
      Tehfinalhack -
      Its easy if a passenger is threatening the lives of others throw them off the plane or at least threaten to that should persuade them all right.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Just cause you read something on a message board doesn't make it true. Show me one actual finding of this, verified, and I will believe you. Do you really think that if a cell phone could cause a plane to crash they would allow them on the plane at all??? Of course not..
    1. luvmytj's Avatar
      luvmytj -
      Quote Originally Posted by csglinux View Post
      There's a big difference between a device in airplane mode (e.g., iPads used in the cabin) and an iPhone (or any high-radiation smartphone) aggressively searching for a cellular signal with its antenna at full power because it (obviously) can't connect. The best, most advanced, modern aircraft still get brought down by things as trivial as a lack of grease on a hinge, or a bit of ice on a pitot tube. The classic situation is panic at some emergency (basically any situation where the autopilot gets confused and disengages), the pilots pulls back on the stick and then can't/don't react properly and can't recover from stall.

      So go ahead and leave your cellphones on if you're really willing to risk the lives of all your fellow passengers. You will have about 2-3 minutes to contemplate your actions whilst spiraling out of the sky (with your body being subjected to tremendous g-forces) before you finally collide into oblivion.
      Thank you for making this post. I was going to do the same till I saw yours. Very well explained. I once had to say something to some 20 something girl who just couldn't turn of her smartphone. I hate to fly and want every chance of taking off and landing safely (when most problems occur).
    1. thazsar's Avatar
      thazsar -
      Quote Originally Posted by luvmytj View Post
      Thank you for making this post. I was going to do the same till I saw yours. Very well explained. I once had to say something to some 20 something girl who just couldn't turn of her smartphone. I hate to fly and want every chance of taking off and landing safely (when most problems occur).
      +1

      Just turn off your phones!?!? What are you all defending? Turn it off and 'maybe' one day we won't have to but TODAY we still should. I know you all think you're geniuses but, honestly....

      ...you're not....and neither am I....so just follow the rules and stop being cry babies!
    1. simpl3lang's Avatar
      simpl3lang -
      Quote Originally Posted by batman97 View Post
      That is just total BS. I have personally witnessed, on more than one occasion, flight attendants using their iPhone during takeoff. It is just a coincidence that turning the iPhone off solved the issue. There is absolutely no proof that current mobile phones can cause interference to airplane instruments. I would also bet that the majority of airline passengers do not turn their devices off.
      +1

      i have sat next to a pilo and chatted with her. before take off i noticed that she ddnt turn her cellphone off. i asked her about it and she said it was alright.
    1. ChicagoV's Avatar
      ChicagoV -
      Proposed Bill Pushes for iPads to be allowed during Flight Takeoffs

      Reading some of these responses, I stand by that.

      People always have a story or some BS example of how their "cousin works for the FAA" or "neighbor's niece is a pilot" and 'THEY said it's okay' when it comes to leaving your phone on, instead of complying with federal safety regulations that may inconvenience you for all of 10 minutes. smh
    1. Mahboi's Avatar
      Mahboi -
      How hard is it for some people to stop looking at their phones for 10 minutes?
    1. King_O_Hill's Avatar
      King_O_Hill -
      Pure BS
    1. REMED1AL's Avatar
      REMED1AL -
      HOAX.... BS... LIES... FALSE

      I have seen iPhones remain on, being used, and not even on airplane mode numerous times on flights during take-off and landing without consequence. A faulty plane, faulty instruments and a dozen other valid reasons for the dated technology we have in our planes can explain this other then a hero flight attendant running the aisles to find that villain iPhone user who trumped the systems by leaving his phone one! Unless I'm the only person who has seen iPhones, iPads, Androids and every other electronic device remain on during take-off and landing then this story is BS.
    1. thazsar's Avatar
      thazsar -
      Quote Originally Posted by UrghArgh View Post
      I just love how ModMyI is suddenly full of avionics experts...
      I know, right! They're smarter than the world!!!
    1. King_O_Hill's Avatar
      King_O_Hill -
      I actually do work in the aircraft industry. So there!
    1. csglinux's Avatar
      csglinux -
      I absolutely believe people should have the freedom to use their cellphones (with the cellular radio active) in-flight if they so choose. They should also have the right to smoke (on the plane), the freedom to take illicit substances, the right to bear automatic weapons and/or any other weapons of mass destruction they choose, plus the constitutional right to be a suicide bomber. However, I would like all those people to go in one big plane together. With Moosestache.
    1. claustin's Avatar
      claustin -
      Quote Originally Posted by csglinux View Post
      I absolutely believe people should have the freedom to use their cellphones (with the cellular radio active) in-flight if they so choose. They should also have the right to smoke (on the plane), the freedom to take illicit substances, the right to bear automatic weapons and/or any other weapons of mass destruction they choose, plus the constitutional right to be a suicide bomber. However, I would like all those people to go in one big plane together. With Moosestache.
      WELL, that escalated quickly...

      Considering that most flights probably have several passengers that don't turn their phones off or forget to turn them off I'd be more concerned that the shielding on the equipment in that plane wasn't up to par. If the phone did cause it they should go through that plane with a fine tooth comb and upgrade any faulty equipment that doesn't have the proper shielding in a day and age where the air is saturated with wireless signals on every takeoff and landing.
    1. Nikhil Gorwani's Avatar
      Nikhil Gorwani -
      Devices should be strictly prohibited to use on board. Even if you are bored to death, boredom can't cause death, but using your devices may risk lives.
    1. pegitt's Avatar
      pegitt -
      Quote Originally Posted by buggsy2 View Post
      Uh, no. As a private pilot I can create compass errors in my plane with a cell phone.
      And as a commercial pilot flying 4 sectors a day 5 times a week, I've left my iPhone on many times and in the 15 years of flying never once has it interfered with the navi/comms equipment.

      If memory serves me a US airline has just had approval from the FAA to allow mobile devices to be left on from departure to arrival.

      The main reason for turning them off during takeoff an landing is so people are more aware of what's going in at the most critical stages of flight, the interference argument is still unproven, you can have interference from equipment from the ground, my biggest problems are from Laser lights on the ground being pointed in the the flight deck on final approach.

      It's like the argument some people have over why on UK airlines you have to have the window blind open for takeoff and landing but on US airlines you don't. Some say its so your eyes are adjusted to the surroundings if you evacuate the aircraft, some say its just daft!
    1. kalpesh78's Avatar
      kalpesh78 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ambi_Valence View Post
      ..........and make it an offence.
      Offence? manslaughter is what i get out of this. endangering lives of so many on-board and on the ground.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by pegitt View Post
      And as a commercial pilot flying 4 sectors a day 5 times a week, I've left my iPhone on many times and in the 15 years of flying never once has it interfered with the navi/comms equipment.

      If memory serves me a US airline has just had approval from the FAA to allow mobile devices to be left on from departure to arrival.

      The main reason for turning them off during takeoff an landing is so people are more aware of what's going in at the most critical stages of flight, the interference argument is still unproven, you can have interference from equipment from the ground, my biggest problems are from Laser lights on the ground being pointed in the the flight deck on final approach.

      It's like the argument some people have over why on UK airlines you have to have the window blind open for takeoff and landing but on US airlines you don't. Some say its so your eyes are adjusted to the surroundings if you evacuate the aircraft, some say its just daft!
      This is difficult for many of you to do, but think just for a second. If leaving your cell phone on during take off and landing could really lead to a plane crash, do you really think the FAA would allow people to keep their cell phones with them on the flight? We can't even bring toothpaste over a certain size onto a plane, but boy go ahead and bring that cellphone that will cause the plane to crash on with your. Pilots leave their phones on, people do it all the time, but have you ever once seen a credible story of this leading to a crash. No, you haven't, because it doesn't happen.

      csglinux just sits in his basement and posts inflammatory stuff, usually completely wrong, but he adds a certain charm to this site, so they let him stay.

      PS I always turn off my phone when I get on a plane, because it is the rule. I do, however, take my seat belt off before the plane has come to a complete stop.
    1. Villebilly's Avatar
      Villebilly -
      It's amazing how fear effects people's thinking - or lack of it. And I don't say this to diminish airline safety.

      Since they say let's base it on science:
      Why is it okay for phone to be on above 10K feet? It can still seek a signal to connect and supposedly cause confusion.
      We all know people, even pilots, who leave their phone on, why aren't there any navigation issues from this?
      What about stronger devices in checked bags? How do you know they are turned off?
      If science said iphone disrupted communication, what about all the cell phone on the ground including those in towers (since this is a low level issue)?

      Think about the logic of the rule. My one year plays a Leappad which can connect to nothing and has no signal. Still it is banned as an electronic (battery operated) device. Is this for awareness or technological safety?

      I would not board an aircraft if it was so unsafe a cell phone could cause problems. All aircraft I know of operate using a frequency completely different than that of cell phones per regulations.
    1. repoman16's Avatar
      repoman16 -
      i dont know why it is such a big deal for people to turn their cell phones off. you are getting on to an airplane. why risk anything at the cost of checking facebook updates and twitter news feeds. people are just greedy a-holes who think they are entitled to anything and everything. turn the damn phone off, kick back and enjoy the flight.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      It isn't a big deal.

      The question isn't is it a big deal to turn off your phone. The question is, is there any science out there that says the reason to turn them off is the plane will crash and everyone will die if you leave it on, which there isn't.

      The rules are, turn off your phone, you should follow the rule or you will get in trouble.

      The rule was made a long time ago, and probably had to do with wanting people to pay attention to the announcements, same reason they make everyone turn off all electronics.