Real reason for using airplane mode isn’t what you think

(ORDO NEWS) — We all know the rule by heart: “Please make sure your seats are upright, tables are tucked away, window shades are up, laptops are on high shelves, and electronic devices are in flight mode.”

Now the first four are reasonable, right? The curtains on the windows must be pulled up so that we can see if there is an emergency, such as a fire. The tray tables must be removed and the seats placed upright so that we can quickly get out of the row.

Laptops can become projectiles in an emergency, as the seat back pockets aren’t strong enough to hold them.

And cell phones need to be put in flight mode so they can’t cause an emergency on the plane, right?

Well, it depends who you ask.

Technology has advanced a lot

Aviation navigation and communications have been dependent on radio services, which have been coordinated to minimize interference since the 1920s.

The digital technologies currently in use are much more advanced than some of the older analog technologies we used even 60 years ago.

Studies have shown that personal electronic devices can emit a signal in the same frequency band as on-board communication and navigation systems, creating so-called electromagnetic interference.

But in 1992, the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, in an independent study, studied the use of electronic devices to combat aircraft interference and found no problems with computers or other personal electronic devices during non-critical phases of flight. (Takeoff and landing are considered critical phases.)

The US Federal Communications Commission has also begun creating reserved frequency bands for various uses such as mobile phones, aviation navigation and communications so they don’t interfere with each other.

Governments around the world have developed the same strategies and policies to prevent aircraft interference problems. In the EU, electronic devices have been allowed to be used since 2014.

2.2 billion passengers

Why then does the aviation industry continue to ban such global standards? mobile phone use? One problem is something you might not expect – ground clutter.

Wireless networks are connected by a series of towers; networks can be congested if all passengers flying on these terrestrial networks use their phones.

The number of passengers who flew in 2021 amounted to more than 2.2 billion people, and this is half of the number of passengers in 2019. The wireless companies may be right here.

Of course, when it comes to mobile networks, the biggest change in recent years is the transition to a new standard. Existing 5G wireless networks, desirable for higher data rates, have raised concerns among many in the aviation industry.

RF bandwidth is limited, but we are still trying to add more devices to it. The aviation industry notes that 5G wireless network bandwidth spectrum is very close to the reserved bandwidth spectrum for aviation, which can cause interference to navigation systems near airports that help aircraft land.

Airport operators in Australia and the United States have expressed concerns about aviation security related to the introduction of 5G, but there do not appear to be any such concerns in the European Union. In any case, it is wise to limit the use of mobile phones on airplanes while issues related to 5G are resolved.

Ultimately, we can’t forget the air rage

Most airlines now provide Wi-Fi Services to customers on a pay-as-you-go basis or free of charge. With new Wi-Fi technologies, passengers could theoretically use their mobile phones to make video calls with friends or clients in flight.

On a recent flight, I spoke to a flight attendant and asked her opinion over the phone. use during flights. It would be inconvenient for flight attendants to wait for passengers to finish their conversation to ask them if they would like some drinks or something to eat, she said.

On an airliner with more than 200 passengers, in-flight service would take longer if everyone was on the phone.

For me, the problem with using phones on a flight has more to do with the social experience of having over 200 people on the plane and they can all talk at the same time.

At a time when aggressive behavior by passengers, including “air rage”, is becoming more frequent, the use of the phone in flight could be another trigger that will change the situation. the whole flight experience.

Destructive behavior takes many forms, from non-compliance with safety requirements such as not wearing seat belts, verbal altercations with other passengers and flight attendants, to physical altercations with passengers and flight attendants – commonly identified as air rage.

In conclusion: the use of phones in flight does not currently affect the aircraft’s ability to operate. But flight attendants may prefer not to wait too long to service all passengers in-flight—there are a lot of people to serve.

However, 5G technology is invading the radio frequency band of aviation navigation systems. ; we need more research to answer the 5G question about interference with aircraft navigation during landing.

Remember that when we discuss the two most important phases of a flight, takeoffs are optional and landings are mandatory.


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