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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. Albut's Avatar
      Albut -
      Ban the passenger from ever flying again. Simple!
    1. Eonhpi's Avatar
      Eonhpi -
      Just turn the damn phone off its that easy
    1. thazsar's Avatar
      thazsar -
      Some people are just stupid and selfish! They have us turn devices off for SAFETY reasons not for the fun of it. I don't know about you but I want to make sure my flight is as safe as possible cuz otherwise WE ALL DIE!!!!
    1. Ambi_Valence's Avatar
      Ambi_Valence -
      Quote Originally Posted by Albut View Post
      Ban the passenger from ever flying again. Simple!
      ..........and make it an offence.
    1. batman97's Avatar
      batman97 -
      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. Albort's Avatar
      Albort -
      Quote Originally Posted by thazsar View Post
      Some people are just stupid and selfish! They have us turn devices off for SAFETY reasons not for the fun of it. I don't know about you but I want to make sure my flight is as safe as possible cuz otherwise WE ALL DIE!!!!
      Considered that some airlines has converted their big paper manual for flight checks to iPads(approved by faa), i dont see any harm in having our devices on during take off and landing. Your holding the passengers on a double standard!

      besides, mythbusters already proved that it doesnt harm anything... i bet its something else that was disrupting...
    1. Ambi_Valence's Avatar
      Ambi_Valence -
      Quote Originally Posted by batman97 View Post
      ................e. There is absolutely no proof that current mobile phones can cause interference to airplane instruments.
      Just as there is no proof to the contrary. The probability is small but do the decent thing and turn it off. It's not forever. Get a grip.
    1. fungusfeet's Avatar
      fungusfeet -
      There is absolutely no evidence that phones interfere with anything on a plane, it's all just what if's and the odd anecdotal story like this one with no scientific grounding, all the equipment is shielded anyway.
    1. PokemonDesigner's Avatar
      PokemonDesigner -
      People need to learn to loosen their iron fisted grips on their smart phones. It's seriously only about 30-60 minutes at an extreme where their phone is off. Man the h**l up.
    1. Perceptum's Avatar
      Perceptum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ambi_Valence View Post
      Just as there is no proof to the contrary. The probability is small but do the decent thing and turn it off. It's not forever. Get a grip.
      If phones are so dangerous, then why are they even allowed on the plane?
    1. TooSlo's Avatar
      TooSlo -
      I had wondered if some of the standard entitled Apple douchebaggery was still around. Yup. Wasn't disappointed.
    1. novadam's Avatar
      novadam -
      Quote Originally Posted by fungusfeet View Post
      it's all just what if's and the odd anecdotal story like this one with no scientific grounding, all the equipment is shielded anyway.
      yeah no kidding. WTF does NASA know about science? they're just a bunch of witches trying to fool us with their voodoo.
    1. Spyruf's Avatar
      Spyruf -
      I rather turn my phone off then take a chance of being responsible for my death and the death of others.
    1. csglinux's Avatar
      csglinux -
      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.
    1. davshirley's Avatar
      davshirley -
      If something that small and low powered can mess up a commercial aircraft's navigation system then I say that the nav system seriously needs to be overhauled. Yes, you can turn off your iphone during takeoff and landings but how long will it be before someone figures out how to cause some serious mayhem using nothing more sophisticated than a cell phone which is allowed on every single commercial flight.
    1. csglinux's Avatar
      csglinux -
      Quote Originally Posted by davshirley View Post
      If something that small and low powered can mess up a commercial aircraft's navigation system then I say that the nav system seriously needs to be overhauled. Yes, you can turn off your iphone during takeoff and landings but how long will it be before someone figures out how to cause some serious mayhem using nothing more sophisticated than a cell phone which is allowed on every single commercial flight.
      It's already been shown that certain fly-by-wire systems can be compromised with a cellphone. There was even a demo android app built to prove how you could take over the plane's navigation systems. Flight simulator just got a whole lot more realistic :-)

      I agree with you 100%. This is an issue the FAA needs to be looking at very seriously.
    1. snoozkewl's Avatar
      snoozkewl -
      Complete BS, are you telling me Terrorist smuggle underwear bombs on to planes, and all they had to do was leave their cell phone on? You think for one moment the US government or FAA is would to allow something on a plane in the hands of a passenger that could recklessly divert a entire plane. If the compass was out of whack, they need to investigate the real cause, and not hunt for witches. Unless say that passenger was remotely controlling a 10lb electro magnet in his check bag over bluetooth.
    1. csglinux's Avatar
      csglinux -
      Quote Originally Posted by snoozkewl View Post
      Complete BS, are you telling me Terrorist smuggle underwear bombs on to planes, and all they had to do was leave their cell phone on? You think for one moment the US government or FAA is would to allow something on a plane in the hands of a passenger that could recklessly divert a entire plane. If the compass was out of whack, they need to investigate the real cause, and not hunt for witches. Unless say that passenger was remotely controlling a 10lb electro magnet in his check bag over bluetooth.
      The terrorists would have to know what they're doing. But it's not BS:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolog...ck-planes.html
    1. buggsy2's Avatar
      buggsy2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by batman97 View Post
      That is just total BS.
      Uh, no. As a private pilot I can create compass errors in my plane with a cell phone.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by csglinux View Post
      It's already been shown that certain fly-by-wire systems can be compromised with a cellphone. There was even a demo android app built to prove how you could take over the plane's navigation systems. Flight simulator just got a whole lot more realistic :-)

      I agree with you 100%. This is an issue the FAA needs to be looking at very seriously.
      No it hasn't.