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Electronics In Flight — Danger Or Distraction?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the ways-to-get-tackled-by-stewardesses dept.

Transportation 532

another similar writes "IEEE Spectrum has a blog post revisiting the debate on whether electronic devices pose a risk to flight avionics spurred by a NY Post article about Arianna Huffington's refusal to power down her Blackberry during takeoff. The post points out the EU's removal of their own ban on cell phone use in 2007 and the likelihood of significant non-compliance daily in the US — and curiously, planes haven't been falling from the sky at a similar rate. While the potential exists for there to be a problem, it would appear the risk is low. Ever bent the rules? Is an app for landing commercial jets somewhere in our future?"

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532 comments

I would be very concerned (2, Insightful)

SolarStorm (991940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951206)

Personally, I find it hard to believe that a cell phone or wireless device can bring down an airliner. Why would a terrorist use a bomb? Why not simply turn on your iPhone?

Re:I would be very concerned (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951246)

If a cell phone posed even minimal danger to air traffic then you'd be required to put them in with the hold luggage or surrender them to the airline staff for the duration of the flight. There is no danger.

Re:I would be very concerned (2)

zoom-ping (905112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951366)

One could always short circuit the battery and cause a fire.

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951808)

I read recently (forgive me, I cannot remember where) that the actual reason we are unable to use our cell phones on airplanes is that the phone would be able to connect to multiple cell phone towers at once, thus tying up several times more connections than it normally would. A plane full of a hundred people doing this then eats up thousands of connections.

Re:I would be very concerned (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951282)

Even so ... what happened to politeness and consideration for other passengers?

Re:I would be very concerned (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951320)

That has been long gone out the window...

I dread the day when cell phones are allowed in use on the plane. Can you immigine a 2 hour flight with some person yacking away the entire time getting loud and annoying... I still don't like to listen to other people phone conversations at a restaurant. You know the type...

Re:I would be very concerned (-1, Troll)

lemnik (835774) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951330)

Actually with certain avionics systems, the danger is quite real. The wrong frequency signal at the wrong time can cause an almost complete restart of many of the aircrafts systems. This is part of the reason why the in-flight entertainment systems have to be purpose built and wired. On the other hand, most of the time it's a bit of extra noise over the radio.

[citation needed] (2)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951400)

[citation needed]: some of the above post sounds made up. Please clarify with facts.

Re:I would be very concerned (4, Interesting)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951418)

I'd like to see tests proving that. EMF/RFI shielding isn't rocket science. The electronics in cars are hardened against pretty much everything - cell phone towers, high voltage power lines, microwave repeaters, terrestrial radio transmitters, etc... I don't see how flight avionics, which also have to be hardened against increased cosmic radiation and RFI from operating closer to the ionosphere, are so sensitive to relatively low power transmitters.

Re:I would be very concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951564)

No they aren't. It will void your warranty of your car if you install a CB or amateur radio in it. If it were hardened against pretty much everything, why would they do that? Also, I know of people who's car will turn off when they transmit using their amateur radio.

another thing you don't get is that lots of electronics in an airplane are radio receivers. VOR, GPS, transponder, etc. These are designed to receive radio signals. If a device where to send a signal on the frequencies these receivers receive, it could cause issues.

I'm not saying that a cell phone can bring down a plane, but I'm saying, you don't know what you are talking about.

Re:I would be very concerned (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951632)

No they aren't. It will void your warranty of your car if you install a CB or amateur radio in it.

Okay, admit it. You're just making this stuff up now, aren't you?

It seems hard to believe that every third car in 1985 had voided their warranty when they installed a CB radio.

Re:I would be very concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951806)

The problem is about 2 completely different aspects.

VOR, GPS, DME, transponder and so on are very simple devices by today standards, I used to fly light single and multi-prop planes and used to use the phone during flight. Even made a few experiments about this and in no way I could induce any of these simple systems to misbehave by using the phone near them. Some of the planes I tried this on were 20some years old, so no new equipment either.

This means that the simple systems by themselves are not vulnerable.

Now big liners have much more things in them. They have air data computers, very complex computerized autopilots and fly by wire systems.(and much more) Perhaps it's these who are susceptible, but I find this almost unbelievable. Also, usually these systems are redundant and all working together checking each other's calculation over and over, so to have a miscalculation the interference should act in the same manner on all of them. This also has a probability nearing zero.

Last note, on almost all modern liners systems are all fail operational. This means that, for example, in case of failure of one air data computer (of 3, for example) the whole system will keep working as expected without degradation(except the reduced redundancy, of course).

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951668)

I've never even seen a home PC or laptop crash because of a cell phone. They make buzzing noises in unshielded speaker cables but they don't seem to be able to do much more.

Re:I would be very concerned (5, Funny)

gclef (96311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951674)

Your car is touching the ground. Shielding is easy when you have a solid ground. How, exactly, do you get an effective ground when you're in the air?

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951750)

u aren't grounded in a car. those big rubber tyres are great insulators.

Re:I would be very concerned (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951756)

Your car is touching the ground. Shielding is easy when you have a solid ground. How, exactly, do you get an effective ground when you're in the air?

Your car is insulated from the ground by rubber tires, which is why it's standard to get shocked if you touch a car on a dry, windy day, and why Asians sometimes install ground straps on their cars (well, I've never seen anyone else do it, anyway.) The PCM in the car is shielded by being wrapped in a bunch of metal, just like your PC has a metal case to prevent RFI intrusion... if it is worth a crap. Or at least a metal coating on the plastic parts, for the same purpose.

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

Sharp Rulez (799059) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951698)

I never switch off my phone on a plane and I fly about 20 time per year. As far as I know, those planes had always taken off and landed correctly. That would be a very very bad design/conception if such a low-power transmission would interfere with plane control. Specially since cell-tower transmit (and reach the plane) with 10x time the power of those cell phone.

switch off and chill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951700)

I'd like to see tests proving that. EMF/RFI shielding isn't rocket science. The electronics in cars are hardened against pretty much everything - cell phone towers, high voltage power lines, microwave repeaters, terrestrial radio transmitters, etc... I don't see how flight avionics, which also have to be hardened against increased cosmic radiation and RFI from operating closer to the ionosphere, are so sensitive to relatively low power transmitters.

Are they using interference as the reason? Another non-electronics reason could be because that in the case something happens during take off or landing (the two most likely times IIRC), then you want passengers to be aware of their surroundings and ready to scramble to the exits.

If people have their laptops out and are paying attention to their emails--and haven't bothered to figure out where the closest exit is--then if something should happen there's a higher chance of chaos instead of a orderly evacuation.

Planes are quite safe statistically speaking, but shit does happen, and being reasonably prepared for it is prudent IMHO. Besides, turning off your device for 10 minutes during take off and 10 minutes during landing is not going to cause you to miss much in the world outside the plane. I have an EE and work in IT, so I probably like gadgets and being connected as much as the next person, but seriously, switch off and chill people.

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951794)

There's one specific case where it's easy to replicate a visible effect: GSM noise. It drives air traffic controllers insane, because they get hammered by it all day. The irony? It's only really a problem when the GSM radio lies within a few feet of the microphone. Yup, that's right folks... basically all of the GSM noise that assaults ATC daily comes from the (powered up) Blackberries of PILOTS in the cabin. Even then, the solution is easy: use Sprint or Verizon phones, because CDMA doesn't cause the problem (technically, a GSM phone operating exclusively in UMTS mode wouldn't, either... but I don't think it's actually possible to selectively disable only legacy TDMA-based GSM on a Blackberry or iPhone and force it to use ONLY WCDMA-based UMTS).

The ban is almost entirely a matter of regulatory inertia and risk of lawsuits. Since the bans are universal, no airline wants to risk paying higher damages in a lawsuit if there's a crash and someone is able to convince a jury that their policy of allowing electronic devices theoretically increased their liability by even .000001%. On the other hand, if airlines could install picocells that made it impossible to connect to a carrier's towers, but enabled them to collect $1/minute roaming charges, you'd see any hint of a ban eliminated within a matter of days.

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951468)

Actually with certain avionics systems, the danger is quite real. The wrong frequency signal at the wrong time can cause an almost complete restart of many of the aircrafts systems.

Citation needed.

I'm pretty sure the FAA wouldn't certify something this fragile.
Unless of course your "right frequency" means something like a high
powered laser beam punching holes in the airframe, thereby cutting cables.

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

Copley (726927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951484)

I'd like to see some sources for your claim for "...an almost complete restart of many of the aircrafts systems". This sounds more than a little sensationalist to me.

The problem of RF interference is not a new one. Engineers do actually consider the issue when designing systems. Just about every electronic device in production today (and especially safety-critical ones) is shielded to prevent just the scenario you are claiming.

When was the last time your laptop/TV/car/cellphone crashed due to you making a call?

Re:I would be very concerned (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951636)

IIRC, aircraft, at least the reasonably high altitude ones, have to be designed to cope with the possibility of lightning strike(not really as bad as it sounds, even badass voltages are relatively harmless when you are inside an aluminum tube). Lighting, of course, is basically the biggest, meanest spark-gap in the entire terrestrial context(compared to, say, Jovian lightning, it isn't much at all, but that isn't really relevant to any aircraft except Xenu's space-DC9s...).

Spark gaps tend to put out some seriously gross, broad band, RF noise. A spark gap with the energy of a lighting bolt should be quite the RF emitter.

Unless the designers depend exclusively on the aircraft's outer skin for RF protection(which seems unlikely, given the systems that need to communicate and/or scan the outside world, which obviously can't be faraday-caged inside the outer skin...) they have presumably had to deal with RF of the sort that would make your weedy little powered-by-batteries-and-FCC-regulated widget wet itself.

Also one would sincerely hope, given what the higher level of cosmic ray exposure can(with low but nonzero frequency) do in terms of flipping bits in any circuitry that isn't rad-hard, critical systems would be redundant, watchdogged and quick to reboot, or both.

Re:I would be very concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951502)

More like "porpoise-built". Those entertainment systems are your usual garden-variety WinCE or some flavor of Linux, stripped down to work on the embedded devices.

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

OddJobBob (1965628) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951558)

Those damn porpoises - the badass brother of the humble dolphin.

Re:I would be very concerned (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951556)

And that's why devices have to comply to the requirement to accept interfering frequencies and not emit any interfering frequencies. Sounds familiar? It's a FCC requirement IIRC.

And it's pretty much universal all over the world. There is no device that I'd know of that does not comply. If avionics systems get irritated, then they are operating at the wrong frequency (as a pilot, and you seem to be one, you should know that there are quite a few frequencies reserved for all things "airborne", and that nobody may even THINK of using any of those without risking a fine large enough to cripple him and his descendents for 7 generations), and should be replaced IMMEDIATELY since they pose a security risk to the plane and all planes around them.

Re:I would be very concerned (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951512)

And the real reason is that airborne telephones may cause disturbance to the mobile phone network by being too visible. It messes with the base stations and system to locate the optimal cell.

Re:I would be very concerned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951628)

I recall watching an episode of Mythbusters where they disproved interference from various electronic devices. On top of that, I worked as an avionics engineer in the Navy and I can tell you with great confidence that the tiny amounts of radiation your cell phone or device uses does not interfere with an aircraft's electronics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avionics read it for yourselves.

Is an app for landing commercial jets... (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951208)

It is in our past. It's called ILS and the big jets are outfitted to auto-land on it. The smaller planes just get brought on the right glidescope and at decision-height the pilot takes over.

Re: Is an app for landing commercial jets... (1, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951252)

Rubbish. While an ILS system CAN land an aircraft today pilots do not wait until the aircraft is 300 feet off the ground to turn off the autopilot. The autopilot is not very good at coping with any of a number of unexpected situations (the most frequent being sudden gusts of wind) that can arise on short final.

Re: Is an app for landing commercial jets... (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951298)

That all depends on the visibility level! And they use it especially in bad weather! If I am not mistaken on the more modern aircraft carriers it's even a demand. Make no mistake about this, autolanding is being used every day.

Re: Is an app for landing commercial jets... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951390)

Ah sure, there are pretty strict limits on autoland (such as crosswind etc) - and it's not a "pilots read the newspaper while an iPhone lands the plane" affair, but Cat III autoland is equipped on the large commercial jets, and many of the large airports have a Cat III autoland certified runway, allowing for, well, autoland. Go google for it, it's pretty well described out there on the intertubes.

EU planes still don't allow. (3, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951220)

Over the last few months I have been on a few EU carriers and they have the same restriction of no personnal electronics during take off and landing, same as when I was on the US carriers.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (5, Informative)

JLangbridge (1613103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951274)

Don't confuse this. Electronics are banned on take off and landing for different reasons, not just for interference. Electronics are banned for radio interference, because that is the easy explanation, but one of the multiple reasons is passenger attention. Take off and landing are, statistically, the most dangerous times, where all passengers are required to be attentive to what goes on. When you take off at night and they dim the cabin lights, some people say that it is for electrical considerations, but it also gets your eyes used to the outside light in case you need to evacuate. Airplanes and procedures are carefully planned so that you can evacuate quickly in case of an emergency, and people being distracted form electronics isn't really a good idea.

What? The plane crashed? (3, Insightful)

Kludge (13653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951370)

What? The plane crashed? I didn't notice. I was on my Blackberry. Neither did I notice the guy sitting next to me who was hitting me so I would get out of his way. I'm going to send him a nasty text message.

Re:What? The plane crashed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951470)

Of course you didn't notice. You were knocked unconscious because when everyone else reacted to "Brace! Brace!" you looked around stupidly trying to work out what was going on.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951578)

Actually there are many good reasons. Cell phones shouldn't be used because when you are miles up, your cell phone can "see" hundreds of cells. When you're travelling at 500 mph, this will change very quickly as well. It will wreck havoc on the cell networks. MP3 players and other listening devices are banned because the pressure change will lodge those little earphone nubs so deep into your ear you will need to visit a hospital to remove them. Yes, I have seen this happen to someone. Laptops are banned because in the event of a catastrophe, the laptop will end up becoming a dangerous projectile. Same for anything that weighs more than a piece of paper. The tray table must be up because it poses a passenger hazard in the event of a catastrophe.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951604)

Well...I fall asleep as soon as I take seat on a plane until it has landed.
Should I be banned as well? (only during takeoff and landing of course :D

That's what a pilot told me too (4, Insightful)

aclidiere (698224) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951612)

[...] one of the multiple reasons is passenger attention.

That's what a pilot told me too. If passengers are listening to music, for example, they won't hear announcements made on the speakers.

It's not that the inability to hear announcements is a direct threat to the safety of passengers. But it's one of those cases where you want to eliminate anything that can potentially make a bad situation become worse.

Most plane crashes, it seems to me, are caused by a combination of small incidents that—combined together—create a deadly situation. When reviewing those incidents, they never seem so serious if considered separately.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (4, Informative)

upuv (1201447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951758)

You do realize you are spouting nonsense?

The interference bit is pure BS. This has been debunked for a couple of decades now.

Attentive at take of and landing. Take off, people are still doing everything but being ready to sprint to the exit. Landing there are three things going on. The people planning the ultimate grab over head bag and bolt down to exit. The parents trying to calm the screaming kid. And the rest stare out the window. All of which have nothing to do with BRACE BRACE BRACE FIRE BALL.

Dimming the cabin lights for take off is simply a calming step to subconsciously tell people to settle down. It has nothing at all to do with escape or electrical consideration. Having a calm cabin removes a lot of stress points for cabin crew. For example calm people are less likely to decide to go to the can. It allows cabin crew to achieve the most they can in a short time frame. It also reduces the risk of people with flying fears from freaking out. If every one is settled the people on the edge will also likely be more inclined to be calmer. It has ZIP to due with quick exit.

As an aside. Any aircraft situation where the passengers and crew have time to plan for an event is almost always a long developing situation. Long as in several tens of minutes. Sudden take off and sudden landing events rarely have more than a few seconds warning if any.

Sorry but I worked in the industry for many many years and quite frankly most of the "safety" procedures are purely a show. They are pacifiers to give the illusion of safety.

In airport security and safety procedures are even more farcical. But that is not the point of this thread.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951278)

These are merely the same restrictions the FAA used to have on cigarettes - you could only light them once you were above the cloud layer. Since smoking is no longer allowed on commercial airliners and this pretty much coincides with the timeline for the rise of personal electronics, someone decided to keep the exact same rule for electronic devices. Look out the window next time and you'll see that the message is always given just as you pass above the clouds.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951490)

Does that mean you can't turn on your iPod if there are no clouds?

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951598)

Time to write a cloud app!

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (3, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951646)

10,000 is when they do it. I've measured this many times with a GPS unit that was supposed to be turned off...

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (2)

magloca (1404473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951334)

In most cases, yes. But some time last year, I was on a Ryan Air flight on which advertisements throughout the plane announced the availability of in-flight cellular services (at significant markup, of course). Out of curiosity, I switched my phone on at cruising altitude and, if memory serves me, got a text message welcoming me to the service. Out of frugality, I refrained from making any calls.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (1)

MareLooke (1003332) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951358)

A lot of it is probably fear and misinformation among cabine staff. I've once asked permission to use my mobile cd player (yes, this was quite a while ago) from a hostess and she said it was ok, 15min later another one went apeshit at me and told me to turn it off...

I bet it's just the same thing with mobile phones. There is no problem with them and the official rules reflect that, but they forgot to inform cabine staff about it or cabine staff still buys into the FUD and has people turn these devices off on their own initiative.

Re:EU planes still don't allow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951580)

You're so right about the cabin (not cabine) staff.. I was on a Delta flight last year, a small plane with only one flight attendant. When she was giving her speech before take-off, she said "Electronic devices *CAN*, *WILL* and *DO* interfere with our systems." ... she was very very adamant that they CAN, WILL and DO interfere. I just kind of chuckled to myself.

No direct link found (4, Informative)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951222)

A few seasons back, Mythbusters did some tests and found that none of their phones were able to affect even remotely the instruments of a plane. It makes sense after all - we're not exactly seeing terrorists trying to sneak twelve cell phones on board and try to text each other into crashing the plane.

Re:No direct link found (1)

crashumbc (1221174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951280)

This a thousand times.

Re:No direct link found (2)

JLangbridge (1613103) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951302)

One of the reasons that electronics are banned is because it distracts people, and airline companies (and federal directives) want passengers to be at peak concentration during takeoff and landing, just incase anything goes wrong and they need to evacuate the plane. I also flew Delta a while ago, and they had an onboard Wifi system that I could use to get my emails, so wireless can't be that dangerous; I'm still alive.

No, you're dead (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951356)

Everyone knows people on /. have no lives so must be dead. You can't kill that which is not alive.

Re:No direct link found (2)

grahamm (8844) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951432)

So why do they not tell people to be alert and attentive and discourage people from leaning back (in the upright seat) and closing their eyes/dozing or from reading a book?

Re:No direct link found (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951708)

Because there's no good explanation for that except to keep them attentive in case anything goes wrong. And you might have noticed how the notion that something may go wrong is handled with utmost delicacy on planes. They really, really don't want to mention anything that might cause you to think that there's the possibility that something might go wrong. When you listen to the "safety instructions" before the flight, you'll notice how it's worded to sound like that can't ever happen anyway.

Movies are carefully selected and you will NEVER see a plane catastrophe film on a flight. They're even edited to remove any reference to plane accidents.

So the last thing they'll do is to tell people to be attentive during takeoff because something might go wrong. They'd rather risk a few people being distracted by their books, at least their ears will be available that way.

Link found... (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951308)

Good news is mythbusters found a link between themselves and terrorists. They blew themselves up to try to prove the point. In other news. Electronics on aeroplanes are fine, but printer cartridges are lethal!

Re:No direct link found (0)

Trassin (1277946) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951364)

Haha, awesome!

Re:No direct link found (2)

OddJobBob (1965628) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951372)

Will if Mythbusters can't do it then I guess no-one can. I am sure the guys in compliance labs would love to be replaced by a fat guy who likes diving and a skinny one who does what exactly?

Re:No direct link found (3, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951410)

Will if Mythbusters can't do it then I guess no-one can. I am sure the guys in compliance labs would love to be replaced by a fat guy who likes diving and a skinny one who does what exactly?

It was actually the build team who did that experiment - a redhead with a taste for car destruction, an italian who can't ride a bicycle without injuring himself and an electronics obssessed asian robosexual.

Re:No direct link found (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951594)

The (fake) redhead is hot. I think when they did the swimming experiments, they should have pushed the old guys aside and used her instead. ;-)
Which reminds me: Here is the Warehouse 13 girl in a bikini. Gorgeous:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQRetuOCEuc [youtube.com]

Re:No direct link found (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951736)

Sounds like the lineup for a typical, stereotypecast action movie.

Re:No direct link found (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951576)

maybe they should have tried old nmt phones.

Radio stack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951582)

I didn't see the episode. Did the radio receiver get loaded with static and as a result, communications unintelligible?

Many years ago when I had the money, I was on a training flight with my instructor - C172. While still parked and listening to the ATIS, she all of a sudden had to listen to her messages and while she was doing it, I just heard static at varying volume.

She was up front in the cockpit with me, which means she was right on top of the radio. Now, if someone was sitting back in coach, would that happen?

If they really thought there was a risk... (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951244)

...then they would make more of an effort to have you turn them off instead of just asking politely.

Supposedly there are other reasons... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951248)

Ideally, passengers shouldn't be distracted / "in their own world" (headphones) during takeoff or landing, when even a small delay can reduce the odds in case of an emergency.

Hypothetically... because from what I've seen recently, an old style (yup, compact cassette) Walkman tends to be quite openly accepted by cabin crew. Despite it being visibly a late model / with some microcontroller / perhaps spewing around more EMP than a cellphone in offline mode.

Re:Supposedly there are other reasons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951296)

Well they don't care about my cameras either - and it's two of them on a stereographic rig which is not exactly easy to miss.

I mention cameras specifically because on a recent trip, cellphones were actually allowed well after/before any other "personal electronics". I.e. after landing and taxiing some way to the gate, cell phones were allowed, but you still wouldn't be allowed to use, say, a portable DVD player.

These warnings seem to be more about covering their asses legally than there being a specific concern.

On the other hand, a few components will easily make a Marconi/spark transmitter that -will- interfere with various electronics that deal with RF.

Re:Supposedly there are other reasons... (1)

coastwalker (307620) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951368)

Tosh, the odds of a plane crashing are worse than the likelyhood of winning the lottery without a ticket.

Now don't get me wrong, safety rules often seem daft and beyond the needs of common sense but this is because the rule that you find bizarrely over the top is protecting against a very serious outcome - even if the risk is infinitesimally low.

However we now spend most of our lives in baby romper suits, wrapped up against the possibility that a lightning bolt will hit us. Well sod that, I want to live my life without filling in endless risk assessment forms and riding with stabilizer wheels. Screw the health and safety industry and ignore them.

I hide my electronics and keep it running on take off and landing, the risk of being killed by the airport building collapsing is higher than that of the plane crashing - with or without a cell phone.

And if the plane does crash the odds of surviving because you are not listening to ear-buds are laughably low, certainly no higher than psyching yourself up for the concept of gouging the eyeballs out of anyone who gets in the way of your exit from the burning plane.

Stop worrying and get a life!

Re:Supposedly there are other reasons... (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951444)

While the odds of a crash are minimal - if it's about to happen (and during takeoff and landing the timescales involved can be very short), you can drastically improve your odds [wikipedia.org] if you pay attention.

Re:Supposedly there are other reasons... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951782)

While I agree that obsessing about minute risks is vastly overrated and overindulged in, you seem to be missing an important point that really makes your position that of an utter prick.

Unless the airline really fucked up on bookings, you are going to be sharing that metal tube with 100+ people. Also, that tube belongs to somebody, and costs some millions of dollars. It's flight plan is such that a crash at quite a few points along the way will involve landing on some people and/or property. While I fully support your right to take up your own plane, drop more LSD than Hunter S. Thompson, and treat the avionics interference from your onboard tesla coil as a substitute co-pilot(so long as you can pick a suitably out-of-the-way crash site); imposing your risk assessment preferences on all your fellow passengers and the owner of the aircraft (while unlikely to have any effect) is deep in "narcissistic prick" territory.

You know when your cell receives an SMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951262)

or a call and just before any speakers nearby make that classic clicking sound... That's the reason you're meant to turn them off during take off as it can interfer with the pilot's communication with the ATC.

Man screw cell phones (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951286)

Who gives a shit about cell phones on an airplane, I want to know when I'll be able to use my remote control car during flight.

Re:Man screw cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951536)

Still longing for that flying car, eh?

Crap (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951290)

It's a load of over-sensitive could-possibly-be-thought-might-happen crap. Like using a mobile phone in a petrol station - the risk is actually from dodgy, illegally imported batteries installed in such things which might "spark" if dropped, nothing to do with the phone itself somehow magically igniting vapours. Most petrol station fires are caused by static sparks from people re-entering their cars while they are fuelling (which in itself suggests inattention to the pump pushing litres of a flammable liquid at high speed into your car) or just plain carelessness (i.e. smoking on the forecourt).

At some point, there probably WAS a time it could interfere with a piece of equipment not designed to take account that mobile phones were nearby (even if that was just audible chirps being recorded on the cockpit tapes because the mics picked them up like mics tend to do with mobile phone "check-in" broadcasts). If you're seriously using planes which are not designed to cope with mobile phone transmissions now, you're in a serious breach of due diligence as regards safety and hazards. For a start, it's too easy to leave one on, whether in the hold, or the overhead compartments, or your pocket, or even the pilot's pocket, and secondly you are going to be flying OVER mobile phone masts (with a lot more power output) and getting very, very close to them and mobile phones whenever you come into land and taxi.

The mobile phone thing is most probably, as has been recorded in several of the EU discussions, more about radio licensing - because having lots of mobiles suddenly appear in the air can mess up OTHER things. Like I can join a ferry's maritime network but only when it's switched on when we're out at sea, not near the coast. In terms of safety, if a mobile phone, or even a thousand mobile phones, can interfere with the operation of an aircraft, then you have much more to worry about that mobile phones themselves. For a start, any transmitter, any static, any friction at all. Same for wireless, bluetooth, and anything else that operates on similar wavelengths. Hell, most aircraft that serve food have a microwave or similar heater on board - bet that churns out a million times more "Risk Assessment" than the pilot's mobile phone.

Re:Crap (1)

y01wmh (1476455) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951522)

"...and secondly you are going to be flying OVER mobile phone masts (with a lot more power output) and getting very, very close to them and mobile phones whenever you come into land and taxi...." . Exactly, What about flying over and very near powerful cell phone towers on approach, landings and take offs? Shouldn't those be turned off also? I've always considered the danger of cell phones in airplanes a "convenient myth" used by airlines. And no, I don't use my cell phone on air planes out of courtesy to others.

Arianna Huffington (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951300)

Wonder if she threw a teeth-grinding "you are all a bunch of loons" temper tantrum like Governor Rendell did?
Thanks for representing my state.
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7220372n [cbsnews.com] &client=seamonkey

Low risk (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951312)

While the potential exists for there to be a problem, it would appear the risk is low.

The risk may be "low," but it's not as low as the threat of another 9/11 attack -- and we're spending hundreds of billions on security theater purportedly guarding against that.

By comparison, a few minutes electronic shutdown at takeoff and landing are pretty small change.

theory vs practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951332)

if I put my engineer hat on I'd say the odds of a cell phone, laptop, etc interfering w/aircraft electronics in a way that caused an actual adverse event (even as benign as an aborted take-off, waived-off or diverted landing, much less crash) is damn close to zero. personally, I'm more concerned about getting brain cancer than my plane crashing and I'm not losing too much sleep (i.e. ANY) over that...

if I put my "baseball cap" (/fedora/etc) on I'd say I wouldn't mind them leaving a voice call ban in place just to keep down on the air rage. since virtually all phones support email, sms & even IM there's no justification for subjecting adjacent passengers to a voice call. I get (and am somewhat sympathetic to) the "it's my right" argument but given the risk of a diverted flight (cost to airline, taxpayers for arrest/prosecution, lost time/$ for passengers) I'd say it's a reasonable restriction given that there are ample alternate (i.e. text based) means of communicating with the outside world from inside an aircraft...

For the Nth time now! (4, Informative)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951354)

The ban on cellphone usage during takeoff and landing is for your safety. The ban on cellphone usage during cruise is due to weaknesses in the cell network and your sanity.

The reason we tell you not to use your phone for takeoff and landing is because those are the point during the flight when the aircraft is most likely to encounter problems and also when our navaid usage and workload is at its highest. We are trained to assume that the airplane will crash on every flight and act accordingly - Complacency Kills! You should be in the same mindset. First, there's the matter of the crash. When the aircraft goes from flying speed to nothing in a few seconds, the G-forces are going to make that iphone/laptop/whatever that you are holding in your hands suddenly weigh several times its normal weight. You WILL NOT be able to keep ahold of it. It's going to become a projectile and injure or kill the people sitting near you. Next is longer-term survival. The fact is, most deaths in air crashes happen not during the impact sequence, but in the post-crash environment. People panic and stampede. They don't know which way is out. The aircraft is dark and possibly filling with smoke or water. Situational awareness and decision-making ability are KEY to both your survival and that of your fellow passengers. Having to get your headphones off or figure out where your laptop went is not going to help. If you weren't paying attention to things before the crash you won't know where you are now and what direction you need to go. You probably ignored the safety briefing too. See where this is going? Finally, if you are alert and paying attention, the amount of information you will be able to provide to the crash investigators after the crash will be of higher quality. Those of us at the pointy end of the aircraft probably died in the impact. Being able to give information to the investigators could uncover flaws in the aircraft or our procedures, and by correcting those save hundreds of lives. We take this flying stuff seriously. You should too.

I've heard that cell usage during cruise overloads the cell network by switching cells too often - I'm not an expert on the cell system so I'll defer to a cell tech on that. In my eyes, the ban on cell usage during cruise is for reasons of everyone's sanity. Do you really want to hear the guy in the next seat shouting into his phone about the BIG IMPORTANT EXECUTIVE THINGS BIG IMPORTANT EXECUTIVES LIKE HIM DO, or THIS THING ON MY NECK IS GETTING BIGGER, or whatever other inane thing he wants to rattle on about at maximum volume? It's bad enough everywhere else, why must we suffer too? (Misery loves company?)

Anyway, that's the score. I've repeated this I don't know how many times now and it never sticks. STICK, DAMMIT!

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951438)

I'm surprised it's even necessary to post something like this here. You'd think slashdotters would be savvy enough to figure this out on their own. I know I did. It doesn't take much to figure out that wireless interference has nothing to do with it.

However, most people are stupid and so the only way to get them to behave safely is to scare them into it. "Wireless interference" for most people is something mystical that they have no control over, and thus it works for a scare tactic. "You won't be able to hold onto your crap in a crash" doesn't work, because they're stupid and overestimate their personal capabilities.

Re:For the Nth time now! (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951532)

Anyway, that's the score. I've repeated this I don't know how many times now and it never sticks. STICK, DAMMIT!

As long as you merely repeat some version of the official story -- which people know, from experience, is greatly exaggerated -- it's never going to stick.

The projectile story might make sense... except that if you're sitting there with an iPod or phone or whatever that's turned off, they don't make you put it away. And if it's turned on, they tell you to turn it off. Since it's no less a projectile when turned off, that rationalization is busted.

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951590)

I don't know who your fly with, but we tell passengers to stow their stuff in the seatback or the overhead. If they ignore us, we can't force the issue, as holding your object isn't against the FAA rules but operating it is. They may be missing the point. In any event, since when have you ever known management to get the point of something and do the right thing? They probably think it's for interference too, and holding the turned-off object is fine.

As far as thinking I am exaggerating, it's simple physics, you are welcome to do the math yourself.

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951718)

As far as thinking I am exaggerating, it's simple physics, you are welcome to do the math yourself.

Let's just do some logical thinking before we do any math, to decide what kind of math we're going to do. The plane is moving forward. My stuff is in my hands. If the plane hits something it's going to stop moving forward and the stuff inside it is going to keep going. Except then when my laptop or whatever hits the seat in front of me, it's going to lose basically all of its KE by deforming the seat, not someone's head. And if the plane should flip over, we're all (statistically) going to die anyway.

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951650)

What you say is completely true, but can we stop with the FAA-mandated bullshit? There's no way security would allow some $30 phone from Radio Shack on the plane if there was even a remote chance that leaving it on would cause the plane to smack into a mountain at 500 mph.

It just sounds so ridiculous to everyone sitting in the "non-pointy" end of the plane when it's even postulated. Instead, the FAA should just require all personal items to be stowed in the overhead bin, or under the seat in front of you during takeoff and landing. Wait, don't they already?

As an aside, I always pay attention to the safety briefing on Delta flights, due to the hot hot HOT chick wagging her finger at me.

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951714)

Besides, if there was interference, we'd know about it up front - We'd hear it in our radios or see it in the instruments. Then we'd just jump on the PA and ask everyone to turn off their stuff for a moment to see if it goes away. If it goes away, then it's simple process of elimination to find the interfering device, and then notify people to have it handled. It can't be -that- common, at least not in any remotely modern equipment.

I too earnestly wish for there to be less bullshit in flying. For some reason those government types seem really fond of it...

Re:For the Nth time now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951658)

there was a time when it could actually interfere, in mid '90s there was a case of forced landing because of a finnish politician who just thought it didn't apply to him.

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

Gekke Eekhoorn (27027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951662)

While I don't doubt your facts, they never get mentioned as a reason and they don't get acted upon either:
- People reading heavy books aren't told to stow them
- People sleeping aren't awoken so they pay attention
- People with glasses aren't told to hang on to them

Furthermore, I would think that people will notice when they're about to crash and assume suitable positions, including quickly hanging on to loose items.

The electronic interference story is no good and everybody knows it. Heck, I don't turn off my laptop/phone - I switch it to sleep mode. It's still active...

The deadly projectile story is a lot better but presumably a lightweight phone or ebook reader won't be all that deadly, and whether it's on or off won't make a difference.

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951780)

They never get mentioned as a reason because pilots get lousy press. I couldn't get this stuff in the news even if I mugged Dan Rather and wrote it on his chest in permanent marker.
Anyway, it is part of the safety briefing (ours at least) to please stow all objects in the seatback or overhead bin. But since it's not against the FAA rules, we can't force the issue if you want to ignore us.

Re:For the Nth time now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951776)

Just answer me this then,

Why am I allowed to read a hardback book during takeoff, but not my (smaller / lighter) kindle?

Re:For the Nth time now! (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951778)

I have never turned off my cell phone in flight for this exact reason. I'll put in on airplane mode. I sometimes use a Bluetooth headset in flight, but I've begun bringing wired earbuds with me because a couple sitting next to me on a recent flight was getting visibly vexed by my usage and even said something to a flight attendant. Fortunately, that flight attendant knew their shit and told the folks I'm within my rights and the safety protocols. I recognize that next time, I may not be so fortunate.

I've Done It (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951376)

I've been on the corporate plane a few times. No such rules. I'm sure the little jet had a 'little' less in terms of avionics compared to a jumbo jet but we still could use our electronics and phones in any phase of flight. That said, cell phones work like crap at altitude.

Nexus One power button broken (1)

penguinchris (1020961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951396)

The power button breaking on Nexus Ones is an unfortunately common problem - design defect (otherwise, great device). With a custom ROM, you can set it so the trackball button wakes the screen, and any other functions the power button has can be duplicated on screen.

But - the only way to turn it on once it's off is to remove the battery, plug in a power source, and put the battery back in (sometimes a couple times before it decides to turn on). A bit of a hassle, to say the least.

Normally, one doesn't need to turn it off. I leave it on for weeks at a time without even a restart. The only time it's necessary is during takeoff and landing. I fly fairly frequently, and have flown twice since the button broke a couple months ago. If I want to use it in flight to listen to music or something, it's not a *huge* deal to take out my laptop to plug in the USB cable for power, though annoying. The thing that's tough is if you need to make a call quickly once you land. Realistically, there is time to take out your laptop again to plug in the USB cable before the doors open. But, it's annoying to have to do that. Likewise, you could hunt for a power outlet in the terminal (if you have time to). Again, a big hassle just to turn on your phone.

So, I just put it in airplane mode and silent mode and left it on. It's quite clear that it's not going to cause any problems if you understand how your devices work. I appreciate their caution, though, since most people aren't going to realize if their devices transmit or not. Still, I'd guess at least 5% of cell phones get left on - not in airplane mode - by people simply because they forget.

One thing that always bothered me is their list of items you can and can't use. I'm an amateur photographer with fairly expensive cameras, and I like to take photos out of airplane windows sometimes. Take-off and landing are some of the best times to get interesting stuff. But if you look in the safety brochure regarding electronic devices, cameras are never mentioned. They mention basically every other type of electronic device possible, but not cameras. In the US, if they see you using a camera they'll tell you to turn it off. They changed their speech a few years ago to say "any device with an on/off switch" to reduce this confusion. On Asian carriers, they don't care if you use a digital camera even during takeoff and landing. A Korean Air stewardess did make me turn off my Sony e-reader - while I was deeply engrossed in a story - for takeoff, though, and that's a much, much less complicated device. It is true that the well-known models of e-book reader feature wireless connectivity so I guess it's fair.

Re:Nexus One power button broken (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951802)

it's so that you don't have equipment on your hands during the risky takeoff and landing perioids. think sudden movements, hitting turbulance while takeoff, hitting a bird while landing and that sort of thing that could jerk the plane so that your camera embeds itself to some kids head. that some airlines don't care about it as much doesn't surprise.

so.. the speech could be changed to "place your items somewhere where they can't fly around from, stay in your seat and don't fuck around".

but this actually reminds me of the rule book for an american high school I got to read once, it was amazing that among other things shotguns and several kinds of knives were mentioned separately. none of my finnish schools had such rulebooks.

Can't stop using your cell phone for short time? (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951420)

Is it really that difficult to stop using your cell phone during takeoff and landing? I mean, I could understand it if you were someone important, like a President, or a hospital doctor giving advice during an emergency. But most of us really aren't that important. However, lots if folks like to think that they are important.

Flight Attendant: "I'm sorry, sir, but you'll have to turn that off during takeoff. We'll be up in the air in a few minutes, and then you can turn it back on."

Passenger: "But if I don't send this Twitter right now, the world is going to end!"

Re:Can't stop using your cell phone for short time (1)

ClippyHater (638515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951786)

THIS! What the hell, are our minds so needy as to have to be constantly glued to those damn social life preservers? Or, as folk at work like to call them, mothership tethers.

shielding (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951430)

The wiring should be shielded to withstand a lightening strike. A cell phone should have no effect. If it does, the design is defective or the electronics/wiring is damaged. If there is damage/design flaw, there is a lot of interference and other signals coming from radar, power sources, the earth, weather, etc. My guess is that something else will trigger a problem before some cell phone or wifi connection does.

All fatties should hang (0)

garyok (218493) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951504)

OK, so maybe the phone won't take down the plane but, if I'm stuck in an aluminium tube for 8 hours with some nitwit with verbal diarrhoea, then I'm going to get peeved. I can understand that people have different coping mechanisms for dealing with the forced confinement but you've got to give it a rest at some point - the world won't end if a call goes unmade or unanswered. If an action is likely to increases the stress levels of your fellow travelers, then you probably shouldn't do it.

In Ariana Huffington's case, I think the point could be made by asking her to move so she's not in aisle seat - and tell her it's because I wouldn't want to be stuck behind her ignorant, dithering fat ass in case of an emergency.

Rule questionable. Obedience mandatory. (2)

Psarchasm (6377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951542)

At least one study has shown that it isn't out of the question that electronic devices can have an impact on cockpit GPS systems. Inherently this is really only vital for landings.

But the rule isn't really the problem. The problem is cheating.

Day in and day out we all abide by questionable rules not because we agree with them, but because we are civilized human beings. Flaunting rules which could, even in the most remote chance, endanger not just your life but the lives of everyone around you is bad. Forget politics, forget gender, forget class, forget intelligence. If you aren't going to abide by the rules, then don't play the game.

Obey the rule simply because its the rule (3, Insightful)

anegg (1390659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951722)

There are many possible reasons why electronics of various types should be turned off, most of the covered by the discussion here. However, most importantly, THEY SHOULD BE TURNED OFF BECAUSE THE RULE IS TO TURN THEM OFF. That's right, I'm advocating obeying the rule just because there is a rule. Sounds like I'm some kind of wuss, huh?

We like to think that we are a nation of laws, not men (read about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_law [wikipedia.org] or here http://robertdfeinman.com/society/men_not_laws.html [robertdfeinman.com] . A fundamental premise of this is that everyone is supposed to obey the law. I'm sure everyone can cite examples where this is not so (police giving other police a pass for infractions, etc.) but in general it is a very useful and egalitarian way to order society. We order society so that society is possible. Without order there would be chaos. One way to order society is to have multiple classes of people - you know, the nobles and the peasants. There are some who feel that this is the rightful order of things. Others don't. In the United States, one of the basic premises of our society is that everyone follows the rules. Sure, we know its not always true. But the more we pursue the ideal, the greater the chance that we will come close to it.

I get aggravated every time I see someone flaunt their disrespect for the law, such as when driving in traffic. We've all seen someone cut to the head of a line, etc. Why do we get angry? Well, its not fair, for one thing. For another, most of us recognize that its extremely easy to break the law and we probably wouldn't get "caught" (i.e., punished by some enforcer of the law), but we obey it anyway. We are frustrated with those don't, in part because most of us are smart enough to realize that if we all disregarded those laws, we would have chaos. The rule breaking only works if a very few people do it. So those few people have anointed themselves as somehow being above the rest of us. Nothing is more sure to tick a person off then another person placing themselves above that first person, especially in a society that believes it is egalitarian.

So think about it the next time you are breaking a rule, probably because you think you know it is a harmless infraction. Who are you ticking off with your self-importance? How much are you encouraging others to also choose to bend/break a rule, perhaps one more important? How much are you contributing to disorder and chaos?

Most importantly, how much are you contributing to the kind of thinking exhibited by those like Ms. Huffington who obviously think that "rules are for the little people"?

It doesn't pose a real risk, unless... (1)

canuco (1930572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951746)

It's the pilot who is talking on his cell phone!

Cell phones won't create a nav hazard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34951754)

Is it possible to create a hazard situation by transmitting a signal?

Some avionics is quite simple. If you transmit the 'correct' signal, you can trick a VOR or ILS receiver into thinking it is somewhere it isn't. The 'correct' signal would involve a continuous 90 or 150 Hz tone modulated on the 'correct' VHF frequency. You can get the 'correct' frequencies by intermodulation but their amplitude would be very low. VOR and ILS receivers aren't particularly sensitive. The genuine signal will be much much stronger than any accidental signal that could possibly mislead the nav equipment. I haven't mentioned DME but DME deliberately injects its own noise (called squitter). It easily handles noise from your cell phone.

The bottom line is that your cell phone will create some out of band interference and the old style nav equipment won't even notice it. You might get something going by standing right next to the VHF antenna and talking on your cell phone (hard to do if the plane is moving).

What about microwave landing systems and GPS? The modulation is much more sophisticated and consequently harder to trick.

To electronically create a hazard situation, you would pretty much have to do it deliberately. Would someone do that? Not likely. It's too much work and there are much easier ways to bring down an airplane. Anyway, we've thought of that. Just don't try to get into a ground based nav transmitter site when the president is flying by. You will get shot.

Crashes - move people quickly (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951762)

Why do you think your Kindle or iPad can bring down the plane during take off or landing, but not while cruising? Simples - it can't.

The main issue is that most accidents happen at takeoff or landing, and the faster people react and do the right thing, the more lives saved. Taking stuff that can fly around the cabin away from people and putting it in the seatback pocket reduces the risk of a Kindle putting someone's eye out if it flies across the cabin later. Forcing you out of your earbuds (no listening to music) means that they have a better chance of getting your attention if something goes wrong.

I still carry a paperback along with my PRS-505 ereader when traveling specifically because of this - I hate sitting around bored for 30 minutes, and like having something to read. I'm never going to win my fight to be allowed to use my ereader, so I take paper.

WMD (1)

TheOldFart (578597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34951790)

Ignorance is a weapon of mass destruction...
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