Can a cellphone really put a flight at risk?

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by sobore, Oct 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/accent/travel/can-a-cellphone-really-put-a-flight-at-1918155.html

    Every day, millions of air travelers take iPhones, Blackberrys and other cellphones onboard airliners, texting and chatting until ordered to shut them off.

    But does use of the devices actually imperil an aircraft?

    Federal studies have yet to prove conclusively that electromagnetic interference can play havoc with aircraft systems. Notably, the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics concluded the chance was "very low" and said all evidence of electromagnetic interference has only been anecdotal. The RTCA, a nonprofit organization that conducts studies for the Federal Aviation Administration, also calculated the chance of a device interfering with radio signals sent from the ground as one in a million.

    Read More: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/accent/travel/can-a-cellphone-really-put-a-flight-at-1918155.html
     
  2. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    The article says "Further, some foreign carriers, such Emirates Airlines and Singapore Airlines, allow cellphones to be used in-flight with no reports of serious consequences."

    Do ek and sq allow this? If so, it is news to me!
     
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  3. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    I've heard from FA's that the greater concern is being distracted if something were to happen vice really causing an electrical problem for the navigation system. As a passenger, I just think it would be super annoying! :)
     
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  4. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    Who wants to take the chance?
     
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  5. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Yes, not like I want to find out that super high speed iPhone 4S or Samsung Galaxy led to a plane going down or having issues! :)
     
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  6. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Recalling that the original basis for banning electrical devices might be useful:

    1) the magnetic issues affecting NDB's, which haven't been used for years, were valid because the NDB, an AM radio station, was magnetic, so would point at thunderstorms and anything else magnetic.
    2) Far later, in the early 1980's the primitive cellular phones were introduced and the cellular network technology was primitive too, so in the air a single cellular telephone could wreak havoc with the cellular system, so they were banned.

    Modern avionics must be hardened in defense from all manner of electronic and electrical interference. Were any mobile telephone, PDA or computer capable of doing damage planes would be crashing many times a day. Nonsense and fiddlesticks. The prohibition has zero to do with interference.

    Proof: iPads are authorized in-cockpit for approach charts, weather updates and much more. Some air carriers and some new aircraft have those as standard equipment. Do they injure flight safety? Of course not, they enhance it.

    I do not object to the prohibition because people should clear away all the stuff around them for takeoff and landing in order to minimize potential hazards and injuries from stuff flying around a cabin. That is justified.

    The rest of this is foolishness. Ask any avionics technician or pilot who tests completed avionics installations.
     
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  7. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    Cell phones definitely put a flight at risk. Imaging a flight with 40 DYKWIA's talking loudly on their cell phones, and the other passengers screaming at them to shut up and throwing bags of peanuts at them...
     
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  8. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Agreed....
     
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  9. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    He he he he....
     
  10. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    OK.... so I assume the NTSB and the FAA have these hard facts...... so why still the prohibition...?????
     
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  11. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    A few years ago, when I worked at [large telecom], the FCC put out a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would allow cell phone use on airplanes. They were deluged with comments to the effect of "oh &$#% no, I don't want to listen to more yakking" and so the change was quietly shelved. The technological problems are minor.

    For the joy of listening to the conversations of others in a confined space, take the train or bus.
     
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  12. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    True enough, but that does not affect the cockpit, insulated as it is, so it only passengers that are unsafe...:eek:
     
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  13. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Neither the NTSB nor the FAA were involved in the original rule, and the NTSB has never been a part of this polemic. The CAB (remember them?) were induced to make the rule to serve the interests of the FCC. The rest is all about airline convenience and needing the FAA as an excuse to avoid the issues gargoyle is raising.

    I repeat. The risks are not minimal. They are precisely Zero! Otherwise there would be no electronic flight bags, often put in iPads and sent on board to guide the flight crews.
     
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  14. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    There is always a reason for these things...... I just cant figure out what it is.
     
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  15. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    In general, I think half of all safety rules conveyed to the general public are bunk (not just the airplane ones), but most people don't think, so we have to protect them from themselves by creating false threats. The workplace rules for professionals tend to be better thought out and justified.
     
  16. thrashsoundly
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    thrashsoundly Silver Member

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    A few years ago the Mythbusters tackled this one and concluded that a cell phone's signal has no effect on the aircraft's avionics and communications systems, so in that regard it's not a safety issue. They surmised the persistence in the rule was just to keep air travel somewhat quiet.

    If they ever do change the rules, I can't guarantee I won't start throwing things in the directions of the loud "close the deal" or "bad break up" conversations. So I agree with Gargoyle, this could indeed be a safety issue.

    I've never tried it, but it would seem like mobile service would be pretty limited at altitude because of the cellular tower antenna orientations, but I suppose people could talk over wifi.

    They'd better not or risk getting Biscoff-eye.
     
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  17. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    It is aviation.

    It is very hard to permit something that was prohibited. Just like the forced pilot retirement at age 60. It took decades to get that changed even though the 60-65 pilots were demonstrably lower risks than the younger ones, and then it happened only with a severe pilot shortage was looming.

    Reading the regulatory history on this mobile electronics issue is fascinating, if you like the stuff.

    The one below makes it clear that the devices are NOT prohibited by the FAA but that each operator must decide hwat it will permit, device by device. Because carriers don't want to do that, they prohibit. Typical FAA out, this one, even though they make it clear that the regualtion started in 1961, years before cellular telephone were invented.
    http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_G...lar.nsf/list/AC 91.21-1A/$FILE/AC91-21-1A.pdf

    Next comes the good stuff, the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). It works much the same way as the telephones, but adds the database etc and still has airlines certify one by one. The difference is that airlines actually want EFB's and cannot stand customers with mobile telephones, especially when they have Airphones and/or wiFi on board so they can charge customers. So, EFB's are all the rage:
    http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_G...ac2e1f7b86256ced00786888/$FILE/AC 120-76A.pdf

    Once you read these two regulations it becomes transparently obvious that in todays world the prohibition is all about ease for airlines and profits they make by selling access. Why would an airline NOT want to keep the status quo?
     
  18. bjdriscoll

    bjdriscoll Silver Member

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    Well said! I don't mind an FA telling everyone it's time to turn things off but don't tell me it's because if I send a text it'll bring the plane down.
     
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  19. 2soonold
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    I rather enjoy the "assertiveness" the flight attendants are now expected to display over this issue; which inturn seems to embolden some of the passengers. ( Don't make me stop this plane; I've got peanuts and I know how to use them.):)
     
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  20. edog22
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    edog22 Silver Member

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    Great phrasing :)
     
  21. emajy
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    emajy Silver Member

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    Doesn't everyone remember the phones in the headrests (where the monitors are now) before cell phones became the norm? Used it a few times but they were very expensive calls about the same as the call last week when I picked up the phone in the Belaggio ;)
     
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  22. kenbo
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    If I had to sit next to someone for more than an hour who was yapping away about their dog or some other "nonsense and fiddlesticks" I would probably go crazy. Maybe they keep the rule implemented to that everyone can at least try to enjoy the flight.

    And they probably want us to listen to the pre-flight announcements, which always reminds me of Tommy Boy.
     
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  23. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    amen.....
     
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  24. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    ;)
     
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