Public Awareness: Use of electronic devices inside an aircraft

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Public Awareness: Use of electronic devices inside an aircraft

Kathmandu – 15 December 2016

It is quite noticeable that passengers are not allowed to use mobile phones inside the aircraft. Airlines passengers who sneak in their mobile phones call, play with their gaming devices or listen to mp3 players during their landing and taking off probably won’t cause any air crash, but they get quite an irk from the flight attendants. Even though the researchers and aircraft companies have found almost no direct linking of cell phones or other electronic devices interfering the aircraft systems or telecommunications or navigation equipment, still they are not allowed to make phone calls inside an aircraft.

In 1992, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) asked an independent industry organization to study the issue of electronic devices on the airplanes which ultimately found that there was probably no interference and recommended on using on laptops, gaming device and music players but still it suggested on banning the devices during critical flight time, i.e., takeoff and landing phases. While, on that case, Boeing conducted investigations on several cases in 1990s that reported that laptop computers or gaming devices caused autopilot disconnects, impromptu flight rolls or instrument display malfunctions but such cases couldn’t be proved otherwise in the laboratories.

Phone calls are actually quite disturbing while travelling. Long haul flights require rest in an uncomfortable seat and in that case, when somebody talks in their cell phones loudly will certainly distract their sleep but also may invite additional disturbances including row with each other or with the flight attendants. Likewise, the ban on wireless devices also counts including the possible interference for the ground networks, rather than any threat posed to the aircraft systems. But, lifting in flight ban on the wireless devices has been considered. Recently, some airlines are launching internet services inside their aircraft that will allow them to make phone calls inside an aircraft through internet which use a dedicated chunk of the electromagnetic spectrum earmarked for air-to-ground communication.

There are different versions of whether mobile phones can or cannot interfere with the telecommunication or navigation equipment inside an aircraft. Passengers use mobile phones inside the terminal building only meters away from the aircraft, even ground personnel are allowed using mobile phones around the aircraft. Also, it is rational that a multi-million dollar aircraft will not be affected by a $400 mobile phone. The aircraft are quite hi-tech and the telecom and nav-aids are adequately safeguarded from any such conceivable intervention from hand-held devices.

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