Why do You Have to Turn Off Mobile Phone in an Airplane?

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In the latest Sunday's Bits blog of The New York Times an article was published, which questioned the effectiveness of warnings about the risks of using mobile phones and other electronic devices during air travel. According to reporter Nick Bilton, there is insufficient evidence to show that such action materially reduce the risk of falls.
Phone in airplane

To prove his point, Bilton said that despite the warnings, it is more than certain that a small percentage of people forget to turn off any device considered harmful by the airlines. Still, in recent years no plane crash was attributed to the use of devices such as smartphones, tablets and ebook readers.

If the use of devices were really dangerous, the reporter doubts that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration of the United States would allow passengers to get on planes with them.

Fear of new technologies

Bilton said that fear of the effects caused by new technology is primarily responsible for the permanence of the warnings, especially when they use electromagnetic signals to communicate. But he said that so far there were no conclusive studies that showed real danger of speaking on the phone during a flight.

Les Dorr, the spokesman for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), said the agency was wrong to do so when it came to digital devices used in airplanes. To support his idea, he cites the study made in 2006, which showed no negative effect of the devices on the aircraft - although it didn't prove that such possibility does not exist.

Unnecessary risks

According to Bilton, people must switch off devices during takeoff and flight because they interfere with the work of the aircraft apparatus. When electronic devices work, they send an electrical signal through all your hardware, including GPS, WiFi, microprocessor and radio.

In case of tens (or hundreds) of devices being connected at the same time, the generated electromagnetic signals are sufficient to cause more damage than if they are linked from the beginning of the flight. With the growing market of portable devices and the lack of research to show the risk caused by digital devices, perhaps more airlines will review their policies towards them.

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2 comments of our visitors:

27 January 2012 wrote:
I was wondering if there are no sufficient reasons for switching off our devices, and there is no clear evidence that switched on devices have impact on the flight, why do we still have to switch them off? I understand why we do that. In case of any danger, flight attendants will be able to aware us of the emergency situation and if we have the devices that interfering our attention, we won’t hear the message about the emergency. Maybe, let’s better follow the instructions as we don’t want to risk our lives.
09 February 2012 wrote:
I agree with Michael’s point of view, however it is sometimes so annoying if you want to relax and listen to the music, flight attendant forces you to switch off your devices. If something is happening, I will definitely notice it myself or someone next to me will warn me or will be in panic. Sorry for my sarcasm.

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