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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. Stray's Avatar
      Stray -
      Quote Originally Posted by mastuul View Post
      I always just put my devices on airplane mode and lock it til they say we can use them again.
      Then why not just turn it off?
    1. thomas122's Avatar
      thomas122 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gamemaster77 View Post
      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.
      I'm not sure exactly what you mean by signals and interferences, on a physics point of view they are about the same. When your phone is in airplane mode it stops purposely emitting "signals" also known as electromagnetic radiations. I'm sure it still emits a bit of radiation since there are electric current in it, but at that point what's the difference with an ipod? I think a lot of people use ipods/mp3 players on planes and so far they haven't downed any aircraft!

      As mentioned by a couple posters above I think the main risk is if 200+ cell phones are looking for cell signal (which you don't get at 30,000 ft anyway), they will emit full power and the combined interferences can be substantial, and might also have health consequences for travelers (or most likely crew members flying everyday).

      It can also be for safety reasons. If everyone is texting during takeoff/landing, which are the riskiest parts of the flight, they might be problems if an emergency occurs.

      Anyway, back to the topic, I usually turn my phone on airplane mode before takeoff, and keep it this way until landing. I used wifi on delta once, and it was so slow it took me a good 10 min to send an email, so I think it pretty pointless.
    1. ronfin44's Avatar
      ronfin44 -
      It's a "plane", not a "plain". We have some of the worst writers on the 'net. *sigh*
    1. Alperovich's Avatar
      Alperovich -
      Quote Originally Posted by jeffs64 View Post
      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.


      so they made you turn it off for the WHOLE flight? or just take off and landing.
    1. hapishyguy's Avatar
      hapishyguy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brr View Post
      I've always thought, "all the terrorists have to do is get on a plane and turn on their phones and Nintendos to bring it down" LOL!
      I am imagining that. Its so funny!
    1. Gamemaster77's Avatar
      Gamemaster77 -
      Quote Originally Posted by thomas122 View Post
      I'm not sure exactly what you mean by signals and interferences, on a physics point of view they are about the same. When your phone is in airplane mode it stops purposely emitting "signals" also known as electromagnetic radiations. I'm sure it still emits a bit of radiation since there are electric current in it, but at that point what's the difference with an ipod? I think a lot of people use ipods/mp3 players on planes and so far they haven't downed any aircraft!
      Well a signal is something that is trying to send a message. Whether it be someone flashing an emergency laser light or in this context, a phone trying to communicate with a cell tower or a wifi hotspot. Waves are emitted regardless of if the device is trying to communicate anything. Just not as much as a signal wave with a purpose.