Disruptions: The Real Hazards of E-Devices on Planes


#1

Over the last year, flying with phones and other devices has become increasingly dangerous.

In September, a passenger was arrested in El Paso after refusing to turn off his cellphone as the plane was landing. In October, a man in Chicago was arrested because he used his iPad during takeoff. In November, half a dozen police cars raced across the tarmac at La Guardia Airport in New York, surrounding a plane as if there were a terrorist on board. They arrested a 30-year-old man who had also refused to turn off his phone while on the runway.

Who is to blame in these episodes? You can’t solely pin it on the passengers. Some of the responsibility falls on the Federal Aviation Administration, for continuing to uphold a rule that is based on the unproven idea that a phone or tablet can interfere with the operation of a plane.

F.A.A. Rules Make Electronic Devices on Planes Hazardous - NYTimes.com


#2

“We’re flying in a Lockheed Eagle series L1011. It came off the line 20 months ago. It carries a Sim-5 Transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?”

I can sort of understand not having cell phones and the like on during takeoff and landing, as these are the most dangerous parts and if any devices do interfere with the instruments, it could end badly. However, I’m convinced the real reason cell phones aren’t on in the sky is so that passengers don’t disturb each other by talking and so they don’t cause a panic causing loved ones if something happens. Best to have them listening to the flight attendants’ instructions than talking on the phone to a loved one in an emergency. Plus the cell phones probably won’t work anyway.

They probably don’t cause interference, but really, it’s only for a couple of minutes at the beginning and end of the flight usually. Can’t you just wait?


#3

Also, the part about police involvement and violence is not exclusive to electronic devices. It’s a symptom of the at times irrational fear of terrorism in this country. Some guy doesn’t want to turn off his phone, or scratches his shoe, and suddenly everyone loses their minds and says terrorist.


#4

I thought Mythbusters pretty much debunked this whole idea by trying every conceivable consumer electronic device (both with and without wireless/Bluetooth capability) next to every electronic technology used in passenger airplanes for the last 40 years without getting any measurable effect of any kind?


#5

Mythbusters says this on their site:

So why all the fuss about phones? When you make a call at 10,000 feet, the signal bounces off multiple available cell towers, rather than one at a time. That means too many phone-happy jetsetters might clog up the networks on the ground, which is why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — not the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) — banned cell use on planes.


#6

[quote=“RET423, post:4, topic:37648”]
I thought Mythbusters pretty much debunked this whole idea by trying every conceivable consumer electronic device (both with and without wireless/Bluetooth capability) next to every electronic technology used in passenger airplanes for the last 40 years without getting any measurable effect of any kind?
[/quote]Sort of like cell phones blowing up gas stations.

Just so everyone knows though, and completely unrelated, lighters can and do explode inside hot cars – no matter what Mythbusters discovered. The cheap 25-cent lighters do explode. I’ve had it happen. Mythbusters didn’t use those cheap ones when it did its show on that myth.


#7

Mythbusters isn’t really scientific first. It’s entertainment first.


#8

[quote=“Trekky0623, post:7, topic:37648”]
Mythbusters isn’t really scientific first. It’s entertainment first.
[/quote] WHAT?!?!?


#9

When I flew the airlines in the '80s, we were forbidden to use radio receivers, let alone transmitters, because of interference (with the VOR navigation equipment). I’ve personally experienced (well enough to be conclusive about it) an FM radio receiver interfering with the TV, and it’s consistent with things that I learned and experienced as an avionics technician in the Navy. I admit to having no experience or training regarding the effects of cell phones and such, but it seems to me that the sensible thing is: Don’t.