The real reason why we should turn our phones on airplane mode during the flight

Image used for representative purposes. Pixabay

We all know the routine by heart: “Make sure the seats are upright, the tables folded, the window curtains up, the laptops are stowed in the overhead bins, and the electronics are set to airplane mode.”

Now, the first four are reasonable, right? Window curtains need to be raised so that you can see if there is an emergency, such as a fire. Tray tables should be stored and seated upright so that you can quickly get out of the queue. Laptops can become bullets in an emergency, as the rear seat pockets are not strong enough to hold them.

And cell phones need to be set to airplane mode so they can’t cause an emergency for the plane, right? Well, it depends who you ask.

The technology is very advanced

Navigation and air communication rely on radio services, which have been coordinated to minimize interference since the 1920s.

The digital technology currently in use is much more advanced than some of the older analog technologies we used even 60 years ago. Research has shown that personal electronic devices can emit a signal within the same frequency band as aircraft communication and navigation systems, creating what is known as electromagnetic interference.

But in 1992, the Federal Aviation Authority and Boeing, in an independent study, investigated the use of electronic devices on aircraft interference and found no problems with computers or other personal electronic devices during non-critical phases of flight. (Take-offs and landings are considered the critical phases.)

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has also begun to create reserved frequency bandwidths for different uses, such as cell phones and aircraft navigation and communications, so they don’t interfere with each other. Governments around the world have developed the same strategies and policies to prevent interference problems with aviation. In the EU, electronic devices can remain on since 2014.

2.2 billion passengers

Why then, with these global standards in place, has the aviation industry continued to ban the use of cell phones? One of the problems lies in something you might not expect: ground interference.

The wireless networks are connected by a series of towers; networks could become overloaded if passengers flying over these ground networks use all their phones. The number of passengers who flew in 2021 was over 2.2 billion, half the number of passengers in 2019. Wireless companies may be right here.

Of course, when it comes to mobile networks, the biggest change in recent years is the move to a new standard. Current 5G wireless networks, desirable for their higher data rates, have caused concern to many in the aviation industry.

Radio frequency bandwidth is limited, but we are still looking to add more new devices. The aviation industry points out that the 5G wireless network bandwidth spectrum is remarkably close to the aviation reserved bandwidth spectrum, which could cause interference with navigation systems near airports that help with aircraft landing. ‘airplane.

Airport operators in Australia and the United States have expressed aviation safety concerns related to the 5G rollout, however, it appears that it was launched without such problems in the European Union. In any case, it is prudent to limit cell phone use on aircraft while 5G-related issues are resolved.

Ultimately, we can’t forget the aerial rage

Most airlines now provide paid or free Wi-Fi services to customers. With new Wi-Fi technologies, passengers could theoretically use their cell phones to make video calls with friends or customers in flight.

On a recent flight, I spoke to a cabin attendant and asked her for her opinion on phone use during flights. It would be inconvenient for the cabin crew to wait for passengers to finish the call to ask them if they would like something to drink or eat, she said. On an airliner with over 200 passengers, the in-flight service would take longer to complete if everyone made phone calls.

For me, the problem with in-flight use of phones is more about the social experience of having more than 200 people on a plane and all potentially talking at the same time. At a time when disruptive passenger behavior, including “aerial rage,” is increasingly common, in-flight phone use could be another trigger that changes the entire flight experience.

Disruptive behaviors take various forms, from non-compliance with safety requirements such as not wearing seat belts, verbal altercations with other passengers and cabin crew, to physical altercations with passengers and cabin crew, typically identified as aerial rage.

In conclusion, the in-flight use of telephones does not currently affect the aircraft’s ability to operate. But cabin crews may prefer not to be delayed in providing in-flight service to all passengers – there are many people to serve.

However, 5G technology is invading the radio bandwidth of aircraft navigation systems; we will need more research to answer the 5G question about interference with aircraft navigation during landings. Remember that when we discuss the two most critical phases of flight, take-offs are optional, but landings are mandatory.Explanation The real reason why we should turn our phones on in airplane mode during the flight

This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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