Frequent fliers will know the travelling by plane comes with a set of rules for passengers in place to keep everything running smoothly. One of these rules includes switch mobile phones to flight mode or completely off prior to departure, but why?
Airline insiders weighed in on this in a Reddit forum, with one flight attendant suggesting that if passengers were to forget to switch off their device, it wouldn’t have that great of an effect.
“It is actually ok to use your cell phones in flight and it won’t harm anything,” revealed the flight attendant.
The flight attendant explained that the rule actually came into place in the early days of mobile phones.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned in-flight use of most mobile phones and wireless devices in 1991, citing the reason of ground network interference.
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However, these days airlines allow passengers to use cell phones in “aeroplane mode,” which stops the device being able to connect with service towers.
They continued: “Old GSM instruments could possibly interfere with controls, but it’s highly unlikely with new devices. Still, each device needs to be individually approved by the FCC. There is no blanket approval.
“Second, phones are likely to connect to every cell tower in their line of sight, which will clog up networks from that height.
“There are some of the opposite opinions that the phone can’t pick up signals at that height, which would drain the battery very fast.
“If the latter were true, I can’t see the latter possibility affecting safety regulations.
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“Third, some people don’t like the idea of others incessantly speaking on their phone through the entire flight but, once again, I doubt this would actually impact international regulations.”
However, a pilot offered an alternative perspective, citing that if everyone had their phones on it could negatively affect the flight transmission during take-off and landing.
“Pilot here, just don’t do it during takeoff and landing,” they warn.
“We get interference in the cockpit if a good amount of people have their phones on, and it can cause us to miss radio calls.”
Indeed, the electromagnetic signals transmitted by phones can interfere with the flight operation when they are not in flight mode.