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  • Poll: Do You Turn Off Your Phone While Flying?



    Annoying thing 3,401 about flying: being asked to turn off your cell phone.

    I know I've scoffed to myself at the notion of turning off my cell phone more than once. How could my tiny insignificant piece of hardware possibly have a catastrophic effect on such a large and complex piece of aeronautical machinery?

    A recent study by the International Air Transport Association makes the argument it might be worth missing those last few text messages before departing. The IATA is a trade group representing more than 230 passenger and cargo airlines world wide and based the report on survey responses from 125 airlines between 2003 and 2009. The report documents 75 separate incidents of possible electronic interferences during the time frame of the report. However, there is no way to verify if the electronic disturbances were the directly caused by cell phones and electronic devices on the plain, a point stressed in the report.

    However, the anecdotal evidence provided by sampling pilots' and crew members' narratives, found that 40% of incidents, where electronic interference was experienced, cell phones were the suspected culprit.

    The incidents recorded affects flight controls including autopilot functions, autothrust and landing gear, navigation systems, and communication systems. Electronic warnings and engine indications were also experienced.

    While the report does not verify that these occurrences were cause by person electronic device interference, some of the coincidences are hard to dismiss. Probably the most notable example was during a flight the altitude control readings were changing rapidly until a crew member asked passengers to turn off their electronic devices. The readings subsequently returned to normal, but after another hour started acting up again. At that a point a flight attendent made a second announcement and the readings immediately returned to normal again.

    The report notes that older, low flying air craft are more easily affected by PEDs. Newer aircraft are well shielded from the influence of unwanted interference. David Carson of Boeing however did demonstrate in Boeing's testing facilities just how much PEDs can affect on board electronics. Signals from both a Blackberry and an iPhone were over the designated limit, but the iPad was crowned the worst offender.

    Still it's not proof that these devices are interfering with on board electronics. With over 32,000 flights a day flying over the U.S. these make up a fraction of a fraction of a percent of flights. Still, its reason to think twice about not turning off your phone while boarding a plane.

    Source: ABC News
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Poll: Do You Turn Off Your Phone While Flying? started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 46 Comments
    1. tkirk10's Avatar
      tkirk10 -
      FYI: The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing markets worldwide for the iPad with Medicine being the fastest! Ground Crew, Mechanics, Pilots, and Flight Crew are ALL using them!

      SO - I guess that would put Flight Medics in TWO categories!

      Granted there was no such thing as an iPad when I was flying (even before the iPhone), but we did have cell phones, radios, and even BB's. We even tested some of the first ever tablets in the air. In all of my years flying, we never turned off an electronic device.

      Before you say "medical aircraft are different", try again! Frequently we would dead-head from one base to another on commercial airlines. As flight crew it was not uncommon for us to have to jump-seat in the cockpit of the 'big' commercial airplanes. Yes, even post 911 when you thought no one but the pilots could be up there. Never once did I ever see a pilot turn off their phone. Most would have it plugged in so it would charge. On more than one occasion you would hear it vibrating (ringer off) on the: ground, active runway, during takeoff, and during flight.
      Flying our own aircraft (with and without patients) we would use the phone all across the country, including into Mexico and Canada. Over the Caribbean it was a bit spotty, but everywhere else it it worked most of the time.

      As for the comment regarding Europe. My cousin flies for one of the largest European carries so we laugh about this 'antiquated rule' all the time. The ONLY reason the ban is still active is because people on PED's are unable to follow basic emergency commands AND considering most emergencies occur during the 'transition phases' of flight (Take-off, landing), the flight crew needs your FULL ATTENTION. As for not using it 'during the flight'... See: "Cell Phone Carrier Bottom Line". It's one way they can limit the amount of minutes people use!
    1. luvmytj's Avatar
      luvmytj -
      I have never not had them ask to turn them off and I use an iPad & iPhone.
      It should be off during take off's and landing's and in airplane mode at altitude.
    1. seandiego's Avatar
      seandiego -
      Quote Originally Posted by alexevo View Post
      Furthermore, some airlines now offer WiFi. Where do you think that signal is coming from? If cell phones were able to mess up instruments with their radio waves then why would they even think to imenent a feature like that?
      Good point. But still I'll turn mine off.

      Maybe they have some sort of super secret alien military technology that allows the wifi to work without interference? Haha yeah right!
    1. 5h4d0w's Avatar
      5h4d0w -
      I've never flown once In my life, but if I did, I would most likely put my iPad/cell phone into lock/sleep mode. What they don't know can't hurt me
    1. Spliff1's Avatar
      Spliff1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by confucious View Post
      In Europe airlines are very hot on it - most insist the phone is off even if it has an Airplane mode. I always turn mine off.
      Same here when traveling I always do as I am told.

      If there is the slightest chance that any device I have, might affect any of the planes electronics then I will do anything to keep me airborne. Anything that saves me from crashing in the large metal box, that really should not be in the air in the first place.

      Why would anyone take the chance?
    1. Gamemaster77's Avatar
      Gamemaster77 -
      Quote Originally Posted by NooK View Post
      Oh come on guys. We live in the 21st century. It should be obvious by now that turning off your phone = airplane mode unless otherwise specified.

      I was actually asked to turn off my phone once because they said that even airplane mode wasn't allowed and I obliged (Reluctantly though) but unless they specifically tell me that I need to actually turn off my phone I'll always put it on airplane mode. Otherwise what is the point of airplane mode in phones? Also I am pretty sure that laptops (Which are allowed in most, if not all flights) give A LOT more electromagnetic signals than my phone/tablet does.
      Clearly you did not read my post on the last page so I will say it again. All airplane mode does is stop all outgoing SIGNALS that a device emits. They say to turn it off because they still give off ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES, all electronic devices do. Even a simple device like a flashlight would give off waves, just barely any.
    1. javiert30's Avatar
      javiert30 -
      I think that's why it is called "Airplane Mode"
    1. Aussie in AZ's Avatar
      Aussie in AZ -
      Quote Originally Posted by alexevo View Post
      Here is why turning your phone off doesn't matter nor does airplane mode. The cheapo car stereo in your car has RF shielding as do your plug wires in your engine. What that means is that since things like those have it then you know for sure airplanes have it all over the wires. I know this because this myth has been disproved over and over again through many sources(tv, science research, airlines, etc.).

      300 cell phones being on still don't have enough power to affect an airplane or the way it flies. The reason they ask you to turn your phone off is for other reasons but the biggest 2 are terrorism and emergency reasons in case they need to have everyone's complete attention. Let's be honest though, we know there's quite a few persons that don't really turn it off. They just put it in their pocket when they see the flight attendant coming.

      Furthermore, some airlines now offer WiFi. Where do you think that signal is coming from? If cell phones were able to mess up instruments with their radio waves then why would they even think to imenent a feature like that?
      I agree with this. They only have you turn them off during take off and landing for these reasons
    1. NooK's Avatar
      NooK -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gamemaster77 View Post
      Clearly you did not read my post on the last page so I will say it again. All airplane mode does is stop all outgoing SIGNALS that a device emits. They say to turn it off because they still give off ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES, all electronic devices do. Even a simple device like a flashlight would give off waves, just barely any.
      Clearly you did not read my post properly. If you read carefully you will notice my mention of a laptop (Allowed in flights) giving off more electromagnetic interference than a phone. I did not mean the signals turned off by airplane mode I meant electromagnetic interference given off by any electronic device.

      Also here's something else which nobody seems to have remembered. Just recently the FAA has approved for flight pilots to use iPads as replacements paper maps (It was even mentioned by Steve Jobs in his opening keynote of WWDC). Now I am not saying that the FAA should be trusted completely but I think they probably performed a bit of research themselves and if the pilots, who are sitting RIGHT NEXT to the damn instruments, are allowed to use them, then so can I damn it.
    1. ctt1wbw's Avatar
      ctt1wbw -
      So cell phones ONLY cause interference to airplanes? Not cars, not buildings, not mainframes, not home computers... JUST airplanes? Give me a break.
    1. Mes's Avatar
      Mes -
      PDAs, Blackberries, iPhones, iPads, etc may or may nor be the real interference problem. But why play games? Why play around with fire? Is your safety, or the safety of your fellow passengers important? Nothing is so important is can't wait.
    1. staterunner180's Avatar
      staterunner180 -
      So many typos...
    1. Ryfly's Avatar
      Ryfly -
      I'm a pilot, do i think iPads (considering there FAA certified now) iphones, etc effect the planes controls.

      B.S.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Hydraulics have nothing to do with radio.

      Is it possible a cell phone can effect radio communications, yes but at the same time, you got a 100 cell towers below the plane blasting the plane with radiowaves at the same time so you chose. 2 Watt cell phone vs plane, or 100KW tower vs plane,
    1. jeffs64's Avatar
      jeffs64 -
      I've been asked to turn off my iPhone on all flights. I always say it's on airplane mode and always gets the same answer Please turn it all the way off. I think it's got to do with them worried about someone using it as a remote device to control a bomb or something like that. Who really knows. What the heck. anyway thats my two cents So yes I turn it off. Then become very board.
    1. Stray's Avatar
      Stray -
      Quote Originally Posted by ctt1wbw View Post
      So cell phones ONLY cause interference to airplanes? Not cars, not buildings, not mainframes, not home computers... JUST airplanes? Give me a break.
      But out of all those things what seems the most dangerous, a car or a giant air plane?
    1. iN2K's Avatar
      iN2K -
      My jab requires me to travel 90% so no...I just put it in airplane mode along with my iPad.
    1. Gamemaster77's Avatar
      Gamemaster77 -
      Quote Originally Posted by NooK View Post
      Clearly you did not read my post properly. If you read carefully you will notice my mention of a laptop (Allowed in flights) giving off more electromagnetic interference than a phone. I did not mean the signals turned off by airplane mode I meant electromagnetic interference given off by any electronic device.
      Well for one I was purposely not trying to comment on whether or not the devices actually interfere, just saying that they do emit waves. Secondly, you said "turning off your phone = airplane mode"; now I know you did not mean that literally but it is still wrong because they do different things, airplane mode only stops signals and turning it off stops everything. Lastly, you did not say "electromagnetic interference", you said "electromagnetic signals", which contradicts itself as saying signal implies that it is some sort of message for a person or other device. I just wasn't sure if you actually knew the difference. Next time just word your post a bit better.
    1. SoCal Railroader's Avatar
      SoCal Railroader -
      I don't fly, I take the train or drive, so no, I don't
    1. bwamitan's Avatar
      bwamitan -
      "However, there is no way to verify if the electronic disturbances were the directly caused by cell phones and electronic devices on the plain, a point stressed in the report."

      hey buddy! it might help if you spelled "plane" correctly!

      just saying...
    1. mastuul's Avatar
      mastuul -
      I always just put my devices on airplane mode and lock it til they say we can use them again.