Please Power Down Your Electronic Devices for Takeof


| 5 Comments



 

Most have us have probably been on an airplane. And, if you have, you know the drill- electronics off. But recently, this FAA rule has come under scrutiny from passengers and critics. People want their electronics, and after all  both pilots and stewardesses use iPads.

 

Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association shows that 30% of passengers leave electronics on during a flight (and of those 30%, 61% said that device was a smartphone).

 

But why does this even matter? The theory is that because gadgets connect to the internet using radio waves- the same radio waves that pilots need for navigation, to communicate with the ground and to keep track of the components that keep them in the air. When we use electronics, we emit radio waves close to these avionics, which could corrupt signals and readings (radar, communications and collision, avoidance technology). This issues could be magnified if the devices are damaged and start emitting stronger radio waves than they should, or if signals from multiple devices combine.

 

But can this actually happen? Is the theory true? Well, there's an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence. For example, during one flight, compass systems were said to be malfunctioning. When passengers were reasked to turn off all electronic devices, all systems returned to normal. Another issue (in navigation) was fixed when a passenger switched off a portable DVD player. Altogether, 125 incidents of interference from gadgets were reported to be "highly correlated".

Click here for full report of anecdotes 

This particular issue is difficult, if not impossible to prove observationally or experimentally. Unless grounded, asking passengers to turn on their electronics for the sake of research could put the plane in danger. So, because it is so hard to prove, airlines typically tend to err on the side of caution and be conservative.

Until now. The incidents were correlated- and as we know, correlation does not equal causation. And until there's actual proof the electronic devices affect plane's avionics- through experimental or observational date (rather than anecdotal)- the F.A.A. plans to relax most of the restrictions. Starting after next year, the guidelines will allow readers to read e-books, listen to podcasts, and watch videos. The ban on sending and receiving emails and texts will remain in place.  

 

 

5 Comments

Sara,
Once I read your post, I immediately recalled a particular time when I was on an airplane on my way home from Florida with my family. There was a woman sitting in the seat in the row next to the row that my mother and I were sitting in. When the flight attendant announced that everyone needed to turn off all of their electronic devices, the woman next to us totally disregarded the announcement and proceeded to check her emails or whatever she was doing. I was always nervous when people did not turn off their electronics right before take-off. Luckily, I have not experienced an issue yet while on a plane flight. I like how you pointed out how difficult it would be to actually test if cell phones and electronics interfere with the pilots gadgets at all. I think if they were going to test this, they would have to fly an airplane with no passengers so that there is no possibility of electronic interference and then fly a plane with passengers and see if there was a direct correlation. According to an article on CNN, it is not necessarily the cell phones that cause the plane to crash but it is the fact that the pilots have to do more work when the waves interfere with their communication with the ground workers. If you are interested in reading the entire article, here is the link!

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/23/travel/cell-phones-devices-on-airplanes/index.html

When I am on a plane, I keep my phone on, although I put it on airplane mode. I feel since it is on "airplane mode" it is not searchig for signals, therefore not affecting the radiowaves. I do believe this theory to be true because all the phones are searching for signals that are not there in the air. Planes need all the technology they can get to ensure a safe and smooth trip. I would love to do more research on this topic.
Here is another article about it:http://www.airspacemag.com/how-things-work/phone.html

I always wondered why there is an airplane mode on cellphones and if that it really will "solve problems" that they believe cell phones cause on airplanes. I also wondered why they make you shut off iPods too. iPods and cell phones are two completely different things. I found you post very interesting and after reading it I did some research myself and found that through ABC that there have been reported cases where planes have had electronic interference because of the use of cell phones. It happened across all different airlines. To read more of what they found this link is really helpful. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/safe-cellphone-plane/story?id=13791569

Being a frequent flyer myself, I always noticed the businessmen that simply could not detach from their smartphones. Surely, if a flight is only a few hours, one can make the sacrifice the act of checking their e-mail every 10 minutes to ensure the safety of everyone else on the plane. I believe it's been known for a long time that the radio waves could interfere with one another, it is not simply a myth. There is a reason cell phones have an "airplane mode", and as advanced as technology is, it is best not to take chances. Airplane mode still allows the user to listen to music and check calendar appointments, but temporarily disables the wifi or wireless signal. Read more about it here to completely understand the function: http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-airplane-mode-on-a-cell-phone.htm

It's pretty ridiculous how in this day and age people have become so attached to their phones that they are willing to put their lives and the lives of others at risk. People have become so reliant on their personal devices that they will go as far as not trusting the same airlines whose job it is to get to your destination safely. I don't think they would put up signs and address this scenario so often if it wasn't a legitimate safety concern.

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