The Truth About Cell Phones on Airplanes: debunking the “turn off all electronic devices” myth

If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’ve probably wondered what the real deal is on no phone or electronic device usage during take off and landing. This video debunks the myth that it could be a problem. The most interesting details to me are: 1) pilots use ipads and wifi in the cockpit. 2) congress is asking the FAA to change their policy. Hopefully by the time I can actually afford to fly somewhere again, these guidelines will have been dispensed with.

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  • Nomad

    I used to know a commercial pilot who told me stories about being able to tell when someone was using a prohibited device because he could see the effects on the avionics. It is not a myth. One story involved having to take over from the autopilot because it was starting to do something that it wasn’t supposed to.

    As to the video, the guy may sound like a nerd but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I can find little that he said that isn’t wrong. Take for example the claim that many radio transmitters operating at the same time does not result in greater radio emissions. That’s just wacky. Imagine being told that ten 60 watt light bulbs are not brighter than one such bulb, that if they were you’d have to wear a hostile environment suit to survive being exposed to them. Light is still an electromagnetic wave, it’s just a more obvious one because we’re equipped to be able to see it.

    For that matter, take the idea that the benchmark for whether a radio signal can interfere with cockpit avionics should be when the signal can cause damage to the human body from short term exposure. That’s pretty bizarre as well.

    As to the claim that pilots routinely use wifi on their Ipads to download weather updates, I find that questionable. A quick Internet search instead turns up a situation with an airline specifically prohibiting its pilots from using wifi in the cockpit because it did indeed interfere with specific avionics. Once again, this is not a myth, it really happens. The article ends with a statement to the effect that the airline was hoping to get the interference resolved so that its pilots could use wifi, but the point remains that these problems do exist and the devices need to be extensively tested to see if they pose an interference risk before they can be permitted. Each model device, on each avionics component, on each aircraft that the specific component is used on. This is an enormous task, which is why so far the FAA has found it more expedient to simply issue blanket bans during sensitive phases of flight.

  • Can you explain how a mobile phone works on the airplanes? How it can be used?