Do Electronic Gadgets Really Affect an Airplane's Instruments?

Discussion in 'Blogstand' started by sobore, Mar 26, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/03/25/electronic-gadgets-really-affect-airplanes-instruments/

    Shortly after boarding, flight attendants are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to tell passengers to turn off all electronic devices including cell phones and laptop computers. But is it really necessary and what really happens if you don't?

    The official reason for the requirement that electronic devices need to be turned off is to make sure passengers listen to the safety instructions from the flight attendants, reduce the presence of loose objects getting in the way in case of an emergency and to eliminate the possibility of the devices interfering with the airline's avionics.
     
  2. Simon
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    I thought they keep saying the radio waves interfered to the plane's navigation system.

    A couple of times I've forgotten to switch my mobile off and the plane has to my knowledge experienced no problems.

    I wouldn't be surprised if some items "walkie talkies" and the alike do actually have some effect back in the 80s but for the sake of the unknown and to make it easier to enforce this rule they just ban everything. This point of view is not backed up with any scientific research but just a gut feeling. At least now some airlines are trying to make their safely videos actual fun and worth watching!
     
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  3. homeyfour
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    homeyfour Silver Member

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    This is something that I am studying actually as part of a Master's thesis in Electrical Engineering. We have a pretty substantial antenna range on campus, and I'm working on a project that tests avionics over a pretty wide range of electromagnetic frequencies and energies. While I'm far from complete, thus far my impression is that the avionics themselves are generally not susceptible to interference - its their associated systems that can cause problems. Its usually leaking, parasitic signals being picked up from the wiring within the plane that be feed into the input sensor feeds to the avionics, giving them false data. Or, it can also be breaks within the shielding on sensitive equipment.

    I stress the can part of this. Personally in my study we haven't observed anything like this. One thing I would say is that an A380 full of 500 cell phones in high-power mode searching for a cell tower would certainly be interesting to observe on a spectrum analyzer as they bounce around inside the cabin!
     
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  4. cgrooms
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    cgrooms Silver Member

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    I've noticed that lately airlines are saying you have to turn device completely off. They specifically indicate that airplane mode is not acceptable but must be powered completely off. What gives? Not too long ago they were saying airplane mode was fine. Anybody have insight on that change?
     
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  5. sobore
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    Interesting. An aircraft has radios and beacons that broadcast on various frequencies. I've never understood why those devices do not cause interference in the cockpit, but my cell phone in the back of the plane would have impact.
     
  6. Jim
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    Jim Silver Member

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    They are designed to have controlled EMI/RFI protection to certain thresholds. While consumer electronics are also, not to that degree.
     
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