Anyone who has experienced airplane travel is familiar with all the pre-take-off safety precautions: store your luggage, fasten your seat belt, and turn off electronic devices. The last one in particular seems like the most important, but debates have spurred about whether or not it's truly necessary.
At one point or another, you've probably heard that the in-flight use of a mobile phone could cause serious problems to the airplane. Several reasons from signal interference to equipment malfunctions are usually used to scare passengers from using their cellphones.
However, as stated by The Telegraph in an interview with Cockpit Confidential author, pilot Patrick Smith, airplane equipment is specifically designed to protect itself from external interference. Smith also moved to note that there have been no proven cases of cellphone usage affecting flight outcomes.
Despite the lack of alarm, experts still maintain that the use of electronic devices during flights could have potential risks. In an article by Insider, it was stated that while they may pose no immediate safety risks, cellphone signals get stronger at 10,000 feet.
The signal spike is believed to be caused by the closer proximity to multiple signal towers. The heightened frequencies may cause potential problems, not for the plane, but for the pilots who rely on instructions via their headsets.
While no airplane crashes have been linked to this problem, there have been accounts of white noise and static interruptions to communications. While these are generally not big problems, these interruptions are potentially dangerous especially during crucial moments such as take-off and landing.
But with modern technology on the rise, airlines are coming up with ways to counter these problems, thus making these communication errors potentially obsolete. The European Aviation Safety Agency has even issued a statement that removes electronic devices from the list of potential safety threats.
In fact, several airlines have actually begun allowing in-flight calls made through on-board cellular networks such as AeroMobile and On Air. However, flight authorities still strictly prohibit voice communications over cellular phones.
While the technology to allow in-flight cellular phone use already exists, sources such as Cosmopolitan believe that the rule exists more for passenger comfort, rather than safety. It is even believed that this would cause a rise in passenger complaints.
Aviation safety professionals state that passengers may find the allowed use of cellphones as an annoyance due to the potential extra noise it would cause on planes. This would make the use of electronic devices more of a passenger inconvenience rather than a safety hazard.