Cell Phones on Airplanes

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Cell Phones on Airplanes

Pilot on cell phoneWhen considering what the big deal is about using cell phones on airplanes, keep in mind that it’s unlikely you would even be able to get a signal above 5,000 feet. However, this will not prevent your phone from searching for one. 

In reality, with the modern GPS navigation systems in commercial aircraft, it’s unlikely that a cell phone used on an airplane will cause any problems with the flight deck navigation systems. However, there have been at least two cases where electromagnetic interference has been suspected, but not proven. These two cases are: 

  • Crossair Flight 498 – In 2000, the Crossair flight 498 crashed two minutes after take-off from Zurich. Investigators conducted tests on the same aircraft type to see if they could duplicate the electromagnetic interference through the use of cell phones. They were unable to prove that a cell phone had an effect on the aircraft systems, but it’s still suspected. 
  • Air Adventures Piper Chieftain – In 2003, an Air Adventures Piper Chieftain crashed while approaching Christchurch Airport in New Zealand. Of the 10 people on board, 8 were killed, including the pilot. The pilot reportedly made a phone call while on approach, which may have contributed to the crash. Again, this has not been proven. 

While electromagnetic interference is unlikely, pilots may experience distractions through radio headsets while a cell phone is searching for a signal. It’s similar to the noise you get when a mobile phone sends out signals while you’re standing next to a speaker. It can be distracting and make ATC radio calls difficult to make out. 

Most airlines now allow cell phones to be turned on and used during ground operations, but most airlines still believe that most customers would prefer not to have everyone on the plane talking on phones or playing loud games. That said, many airlines now have WiFi so that emails and texts can be used. 

Here at Elevate Aviation, we believe it’s important for passengers to be aware of the rules and the reasons behind them. For more information, please contact us here at our Salt Lake City, Utah location. At Elevate Aviation, we specialize in helping individuals in becoming a pilot and learn how to fly a plane

Posted on Sep 23, 2019

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