Have you ever seen someone whip out their cell phone as the plane was taking off?
The Travel Detective explains the real deal when it comes to cell phone use on planes, and separates the fact from fiction of using personal electronic devices up in the air.
A listener of my radio show recently emailed me about two incidents on planes taking off from Tampa, Florida. In one flight, a young man was on his phone during the descent until he deplaned.
On another flight, a woman spoke on her phone before takeoff after the flight attendants were seated.
She asked me if there is this way a safety issue and is there anything she should have done.
I have a real issue with not just phones, but all electronic devices. I get very angry because every airline hides behind the Federal Aviation Administration, which clearly states they don’t have a problem with electronic usage.
The FAA has investigated every electronic device. In their tests, they actually bump the RF interference up to a hundred times more than the actual device gives off. And they run the tests within 3 feet of all the cockpit devices.
Guess what happened? Nothing. I fly in the cockpit all the time and the pilots are up there playing with their iPods and Blackberrys.
When the FAA found no evidence whatsoever of electronic interference that could do damage to the plane, they issued a rule that left it up to the individual airlines to make their policies. The airlines like to say “the FAA makes us do it.” No, the FAA doesn’t.
Their policy is do what you want to do.
Is it a safety issue? The only argument that can be made is that if you’re talking on your cell phone during takeoff or landing and there’s an accident or emergency and they need to get your attention––you’re distracted.
It’s a myth that the FAA is banning cell phone use. It’s not the FAA; it’s the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC reasons that because cell phones seek out signals in a conical way, assuming you could get a signal at 30,000 feet, the cone would be so large it would block out signals on the ground. However, that’s technically impossible.
I do support one item that the FAA bans: high-powered marine band radios. There is evidence that those radios interrupt flight navigational equipment. If you see a guy walk on the plane with a big box on his back and a whiplash antenna, get off the plane. Other than that one kind of radio, there is no credible evidence whatsoever that cell phones, Blackberry or any other device interferes with the navigation system on the plane.
I will go one on one with anyone who wants to challenge that fact because my source is the FAA itself. Right now liability lawyers are covering their you-know-whats. They’re making a policy based on some bizarre situation where everybody turns on their Blackberry at the same time and 300 people start transmitting. The likelihood of that scenario causing a problem is slim to none. They bumped up the RF Interference to 100 times more than it normally gives off at a distance of 3 feet from all of the instruments in the cockpit and nothing happened.
The people who used their phones in air did not follow the flight attendants’ instructions. They were violating the rules, which could get them in serious trouble. So, when you see somebody using their phone during take off and landing, tell them to stop. Not because it’s a safety issue, but because it’s against the rules that are in effect now.
By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com.
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