Use of mobiles on planes

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This topic contains 28 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  canucklad 7 Nov 2013
at 10:49

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  • Anonymous


    For my sins I have spent many years flying around the world on every carrier you can think of, although thankfully things are finally starting to calm down as the younger generation takes over. One issue, amongst all the others, that I have never been able to work out, however, is the different approaches carriers take to the use of mobiles on board.
    It is easy to start from the premise that anything that transmits is banned, and the usual announcements are made on doors closeed/landing to reinforce this. However, two things stand out. Firstly, whilst some (semi) consistently announce this, eg BA, others have a totally different view; EK, for example, announce “you may turn on your mobile phones” the moment the tyres hit the tarmac.
    Either it is a safety risk, or it is not.
    Secondly, what really gets me going are the “so important” types who, no a matter what, absolutely HAVE to turn their phones on, often going to all sorts of lengths to hide them from crew who may be wandering through the cabin, as if the odd 30 seconds would threaten their place in ther pecking order.
    Is it just me, or does this get under anybody elses skin?


    esselle – I can’t comment on an airlines policy regarding the use of phones on planes. However I am one these individuals that you have described. I can’t exit a meeting, going to lunch, finish a workout without etc without checking my phone before I do anything else 😉

    My excuse is “Social Networking” i.e. texts, facebook, whatsapp, BT forum updates etc… do you use an of these fabulous tools ? 😉

    However bizarrely enough it does any me when I see other people doing the same???

    I do disagree with the use of phones in the air and when the aircraft doors have closed even when on the ground.


    Hi esselle

    There are so many different policies because it has nothing to do with safety, it is a throwback to the late 80’s/early 90’s when mobile phone providers started seeing their networks partially crashing, it was eventually established that it was caused by mobile phones being left on while in flight (well actually the problem was on take off and landing).

    A mobile phone is most usually in range of 2-5 towers and the system keeps switching it to the most applicable tower, however the problem is when a phone is left on while climbing or decending it can be in range of 50+ towers, and at least the early systems used to crash as the software said this was impossible and there must be an error. To be fair im not sure if this has been fixed now, but with advances in technology i would be surprised if this caused much of a problem now, anyways the communication companies in the US asked the FAA to ban the use of mobiles, and hence the policies you spoke of.

    There is no effect to modern commercial airframes from mobile phones, although in light general aviation aircraft there is an interference with the radios, as I know to my dettriment as im always forgetting to turn mine off!!

    hope this helps.


    It is also a safety concern for the passengers. Take off and landing are the most critical parts of flight and also most likely to have accidents occur.
    Electronic devices provide distractions, people get enveloped in the screen and the outside means nothing. Magazines and books do not have the same loss of surroundings most of the time for many people.
    So if the plane is having some sort of failure, the airline would rather people be more aware of the cabin and be focused on getting out alive – rather than has my laptop shut down correctly, or better call my mum to say we’re about to die. Backlit displays are especially dangerous at night as then it takes longer to adjust to the darkness of the cabin and outside in the event of any accidents.


    rubbish conair

    many airlines allow the use of the IFE right up to the gate, so worse than using your phone you can be totally engrossed in your movie/music all the way to the gate. As well many airlines allow the use of non transmitting/recieving devices at any stage of the flight


    Yes Mr Watson, of course its rubbish. I haven’t studied Aviation Technology BSc Hons or work with a number of airlines at Manchester Airport in operations.

    The airlines own IFE can be switched off the moment there may be a problem, try turning off your phone when you’ve just been told you’re about to crash.


    im glad you work for anumber of airlines at MAN, I also happen to fly for an airline.

    and im really not sure turning your phone off when youve been told your just about to crash is going to be on your list of top things to do!


    Research by the University of Cranfield – anyone who ‘flies for an airline’ should know this establishment, has shown that people react in different ways in emergency situations, including many who become irrational.
    If you’ve been using your phone then a number are likely to call loved ones as was seen during the 11th September attacks all those years ago, or even activate the broadcast functions of their phones.
    Airlines are trying to protect the passengers by prohibiting the use of electronic devices to keep as many people alive by engaging them in the cabin environment. I’m only stating fact, having studied safety, reliability, human factors and crew resource management and more, my background gives more credence to it being over safety than you saying its rubbish. Trolley dolly’s, which I surmise you to be, know nothing. I’ve had on a number of occasions had to show crew how to operate the electronic cabin management onboard the airlines 73H’s with sky interior.


    So Mr/Capt Watson aka Mythbuster;

    How many times have you used a mobile phone from the flight deck with the engines running and seen ANY adverse instrument readings?

    How many times have you used your mobile in the air and in range of a signal and seen any adverse instrument readings?

    Does it really make any difference – in the kind of aircraft you fly?


    I have heard the story about interferrance with ground based signal masts many times from many different pilots, so there must be some truth to it, but how do the airtime providers persuade the airlines to act like this?
    Any more views about the guys who cannot control their urges to play with their toys; after all, there is notionally the power of detention accorded to the Commander, plus a pretty hefty fine.


    I was on a Norwegian Air flight this week with a 20 something lady next to me with an iPhone and a blackberry. She made personal calls until the plane was almost leaving the runway after which she popped the phones into her bag without turning them off or using flight mode etc. As soon as the plane touched down two hours later, she phoned back to finish her conversation. I’m a frequent flier and not normally a nervous traveller however this behaviour unsettled me. Should I have said something to her? To the flight crew? Did this pose any real threat to the safety of the plane?


    morning caroline

    i wouldnt worry, i havent been on any airline where turning off your mobile has been enforced.

    if there was a real threat this would have to be enforced, maybe hand them in on boarding and collect on way off LOL!!!

    on a full 747 how may mobiles, tablets etc will have been left off in flight quite a lot i would think

    on a recent flight to cape town a friend i was travelling with left his phone on by mistake and when he checked it at LHR he had 3 welcome texts from mobile operators which he got flying over there airspace


    I’m just reading a book by a pilot where he thinks about half of all phones are left on during a flight.


    I’m with Caroline… People who deliberately want to flout the “rules” irritate the heck out if me and I have spoken up, usually “it” being a bloke who is obviously terribly terribly important … Must be why he’s flying economy.. However, horrifyingly, arriving in Singapore last night pulled my phone out of bag only to find I hadn’t shut it down… Couldn’t believe I’d done that but what’s really missing in this thread is a definitive its dangerous or it isn’t! I do wish someone would make that decision so that the rest of us who do obey the rules can fly easy… Or perhaps not as I can’t imagine how hellish it will be with an entire cabin screeching down their phones for 12 hours inflight!!

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