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Do Our Phones Really Threaten Planes?

September 15, 2012

What are the odds that you are on a flight where everyone actually follows the “turn off all electronics during takeoff and landing” rule? According to this article by Dan and Chris in the Wall Street Journal, the answer is about 1 in 100 quadrillion. But there have been no accidents attributed to cell phone interference. Policy should be based on evidence rather than fear.

Read this article in the Wall Street Journal.

One Comment leave one →
  1. John R. Otiker permalink
    November 10, 2014 2:31 am

    With all due respect, policy and regulation as it relates to Airline Travel, is driven by safety not fear. While some may believe that fear is the underlying platform for safety, there again I give all due respect to the human emotion… fear… yet the underlying platform contained within safety is… creating a least probable element of the threat to loss of life. Is there is ‘fear’ for the loss of life? Certainly. Understanding that flight defies gravity and places the most diplomatic or organizationally valuable person as well as the regular “Joe” in a position of TOTAL submission to the acts of two Pilots up front… Then… regulators who permit actions or equipment to effect flight are FIRST and foremost… not allowed until tests provide data that support… a least probable element of the threat to loss of life. The underlying regulatory answer to “may we?” is NO until data supports a need and a “YES”.

    Data must be funded by the way. Will companies that create the instruments pay for the testing? Does the traveling public want to fund it? Will the Airline companies fund the research? This in short time will most likely become a moot point as it relates to cellphones but the point I make will remain as it is a simple reflection of an underlying value system for flight… The underlying regulatory answer to “may we?” is NO until data supports a need and a “YES”.

    After 43 years of Piloting aircraft of which 35 of those years have been for airlines… I have come to utilize a simple test for significant or simple changes or challenges to airline flight… (private flight as well) and this is it: First imagine that you are taking your precious 8 year old daughter to a flight that will take her alone to a destination where another loving relative or friend awaits her arrival. Imagine that the Captain of the flight awaits you at the aircraft where he accepts that little girl directly from you. You look at him and he smiles and shakes your hand. You ask him to take good care of that little girl and he reassures you that he will do just that. You trust that he has been trained. You trust that he has experience and you trust that he has good judgment. And you trust that he is a good pilot. And you trust that the aircraft is airworthy… of course you assume that the Captain would not take the aircraft unless it was, right? You trust that BOTH pilots are good.

    You ask the Captain if it is ok if your daughter uses her cellphone during the flight and the Captain states “You know… I would prefer not. In my years of flying I have experiences some strange anomalies with instruments and at this time we don’t have proof that all the cellphones and the separate frequencies will not interfere with our instruments.”

    What would you say to your daughter about her use of the cellphone?

    The focus here is not the Captain. The focus is your daughter on that airplane alone which will defy gravity, fly at 500mph – 800kph, 5 miles-7km above the earth around thunderstorms and Jetstream winds. IF the people that are responsible for the flight have a doubt about anything that may effect that flight… how does that effect your decision to put your daughter on that airplane?

    Of course there is an assumption (or an underlying platform) even here… and that is that you love that little girl with the depth of your heart. And you fear… her loss.

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