Watch this : Do you really need to switch off your phone on the plane ?

All mobile phones these days come with a “flight mode” and when you put this on to flight mode, all connections that transmit or receive are turned off. Be it WiFi or Bluetooth, GSM, GPRS all the modes of communication are closed off and are kept as a feature for usage by companies as many airlines insist on switching these off especially during take off and landing. Not only do they ask passengers to turn off connections they also insist on switching off these days. On my recent trip to India, flying on Emirates, I found myself telling a fellow passenger to switch off his phone as well and had a bit of an argument with him as well.

Nokia Mobile Phone

Emirates is quite a progressive airline allowing people to make and receive calls during flights but even they insist these ceremonies during take off and landing. Once I landed in Dubai and when I have started to look back at the trip I am beginning to think if it is actually required to switch off phones, not just take them to “flight mode” even in this day and age.

Before I present my justification, I think you all should see this video :

First things first most airlines including Emirates Airlines do not really understand the “flight mode” in mobile phones, considering that Android is the most popular Operating Phones these days and Android has the flight mode feature since the early inceptions of the OS, it is clear that Airlines need to pay attention to this setting, considering it was made for them.

Secondly a search trying to find if the mobiles actually cause disruptions in the signal of the sophisticated commercial airliners to today, comes up with some interesting conclusions, here is what I found out. Logic says that Airlines would not let us carry phones if it did, take the scenario that liquids over 100 ml could be mixed to make explosives, so they don’t let us carry more than 100ml. If this was the case with cell phones, they would not have let us carry these. Instead, an arbitrary set of rules established by the FAA and extended by the airlines prohibits iPods during takeoff, but explicitly allow electric shavers to be used during flight.

What about the regulations ? 

The governing body for Airlines and Airports, IATA mentioned in a study commissioned in 1993, suggested that airlines prohibit the use of personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing, despite a lack of evidence that these gadgets had caused a single accident.

In Nov 2009, the Federal Airlines Authority (FAA) of the US again mentioned in an immediate release that “there is insufficient information to support a wholesale change in policies that restrict use of PEDs.” The actual rule from FAA on this is here :

§ 121.306   Portable electronic devices.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any U.S.-registered civil aircraft operating under this part.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to—
(1) Portable voice recorders;
(2) Hearing aids;
(3) Heart pacemakers;
(4) Electric shavers; or
(5) Any other portable electronic device that the [airline] has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.
(c) The determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that [airline] operating the particular device to be used.
[Doc. No. FAA–1998–4954, 64 FR 1080, Jan. 7, 1999]

The FAA has since approved the use of Wi Fi inside the planes, and also for communicating with Airports and control towers, the frequencies of which (2.4 Ghz) have a similar effect. So based on which your iPhone or Nokia might crash the plane but not your laptop using WiFi ??

The other reasoning 

The other reasoning is that people do not pay attention to the announcements that the crew is making, or the captain is making during take off or landing and thus is a danger eventually. Well I should say good point there, but this should be forced on to your screens at the back of the seat anyway like what Emirates and other carriers do. How are we to trust someone telling us that reading a iPad document during takeoff is dangerous as we stare across a field of EMI-spewing LCD seat-back screens? Or the pilots wearing the digital watches on their wrists much closer to all the gadgets.

Another justification seems that there are those who don’t switch off even after saying it, so everyone should switch off everything. But well if there is no proof that people using these gadgets can cause a risk, then well it should not matter now does it.

The last one seems more like it, people do not want to listen to other people rant even if it means to a loved one. People want to fly and read or reflect on their thoughts when they do so. So if its a way to  “Shut up and fly” then well that is something understandable.

My verdict after reading this : Its a Dumb rule

More interesting Read : 

A new system to get onto Aircrafts

If the skylift as it is called, become famous, it might mean the end of the airport bridge, and dramatic movie endings where heroes run on the bridge, to meet the lady of their love. I did’t really like those melodramatic scenes anyway. The problem with Airports and Airlines in trying to provide a similar service across different destinations is that they usually have better service at their Hub Airport and might not have the same facilities across various different airports. An example of that being Emirates, with them providing air bridge facilities across Dubai, where as in lesser packed Indian Airports they need to bus people in and get them to climb the aircraft.

In order to provide unified service and even in terms of ergonomics of airplanes and the trips that people take just to get on an aircraft, even if it seems that right now its not required, there is a huge change that is required. That change could be provided by SkyLift.

Continue reading A new system to get onto Aircrafts