FCC Boss Tired Of Having To Put His iPad Away For Takeoff, Tells FAA To Fix It

from the inter-agency-squabbles dept

Numerous people have talked about the ridiculousness of requiring airplane passengers to put away their iPads or other portable devices during takeoff and landing on airplanes. There used to be excuses about how it could impact the equipment in the plane, but no one actually believes that any more. Now, even FCC boss Julius Genachowski is getting impatient with all of this and has asked the FAA to stop procrastinating and start allowing the use of such devices. The letter, of course, was more polite than that, but makes it clear that the FCC is ready to get on with the show and would like the FAA to finally "enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices."


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  1.  
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    Kienda Hoji, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:40am

    FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Dear writer
    Although I could mprobably look up these abbreviations (FCC FAA) it would have been helpful to know what they mean from within the article. Just saying.

     

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  2.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:51am

    Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    The FCC is the group responsible for standards on the air over radio and television.

    The FAA is the group that controls standards for air travel.

     

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  3.  
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    John Katos, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:53am

    Safety?

    I for one don't want to get hit in the back of the head by a flying iPad in case of an aborted take off or rough landing.

     

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  4.  
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    The dude, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:56am

    Re: Safety?

    Aren't people allowed to have hardcover books and similar items (hard items that is)with them?
    Wouldnt it make sense to ban these items too to keep a coherent policy?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:56am

    SHIT...... Rich and powerful people say

    Only an issue when it effects them.

     

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  6.  
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    bosconet (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:58am

    Re: Safety?

    Using that standard, hardcover books should need to be stowed for take off and landing....oh and lap babies too, need to go under the seat or in the overheard bins for take off and landing.

    And honestly the 'I fear they will become projectiles' has to be one of the weakest arguments.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:00am

    Re: Safety?

    Damn straight!

    If I'm gonna get hit by something, better make it something good, like an Android.

    /flame on :)

     

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  8.  
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    Giles, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:01am

    Re: Safety?

    Besides the fact that the back of your head is protected by the seat you are in, why then not worry about hard cover books and other items that are allowed during take off and landing?

     

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  9.  
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    cpt kangarooski, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Well, more importantly in this case, they are also in charge of regulations and testing to ensure that devices that emit or receive radio signals don't harmfully interfere with one another. This is why there's a little FCC insignia on the back of IPads and language printed there indicating that it complies with FCC standards.

     

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  10.  
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    Michael, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re: Safety?

    Lap babies are relatively soft and do not have any sharp edges.

    In fact, they probably infringe on the "rounded corners" patent.

     

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  11.  
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    Michael, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:07am

    FCC Boss

    What is the world coming to when the boss of the FCC has to fly commercial? There is not enough back-room money and favors to cover a private jet?

     

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  12.  
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    The dude, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:08am

    Re: Re: Safety?

    A tablet?
    Come on, at least one of these

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:22am

    And get rid of cell phone bans to.

    Despite the public reason that it's about interference with airline equipment that's NOT the reason why cell phones are banned on flights. It's because the FCC (or whatever government group) was worried about the impact planes of several hundred people talking on cell phones will have on phone reception for people on the ground (think 9/11, where so many people were trying to make phone calls that phones didn't work for emergency responders who needed them).

    It's a really stupid rule, since that only happens in big national emergencies, and people on the ground will be plenty enough to overload the cell phone towers on their own.

    Rules for iPad's and such are probably just that rule being carried over blindly because most people don't know the real reason for the no cell phone rule.

     

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  14.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:27am

    Re: Safety?

    If it is landing hard enough (or braking hard enough) for the inertia needed that a tablet could become a projectile across a row of seats then you have far worse problems to worry about then the possibility of FOD (Foreign Object Damage).

    Way before I became the weirdness that is to do with Digital Forensics, in another life it seems now (ie:pre1991), I was a fully Qualified and licenced Avionics Engineer (747-300/400, 767) with QANTAS and I can absolutely state that the bullshit that has been spouted by your FAA in regards to laptops, digital mobile phones (not analogue they were a risk in certain cases with TACAN) and other 'consumer' digital devices is exactly that.. pure and unadulterated bullshit!

    Its nearly the same as the bullshit they tell you about turning your mobile off whilst filling up with petrol (static electricity is more a danger - as are lit ciarettes) or manufacturers saying how HDMI cables need "high end shielding, gold plating and other marketing puffery" to give you best performance. ITS A LOAD OF FUD & CRAP!

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:30am

    Re:

    I would hope that the major emergency responders have their own radio networks, and that their control rooms have landlines to hospitals etc.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:30am

    Re: Safety?

    I highly doubt you'll be hit in the back of the head if you're in that type of situation. Anyway, I'd be more afraid of someone's large, hardcover book flying around in the cabin than an ipad. Either way, if the landing or take-off is rough enough to send ipads flying, I'd be happy just to be alive to remember being hit in the head.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:32am

    Re:

    I think more to point is the fact that airplanes are effectively a giant faraday cage, and once you're 7 miles in the air, you're not going to be able to lock a tower.

    Even supposing that you did, you'd be wreaking merry havoc on the towers as you switch towers somewhere around once a second, there's no theoretic reason that you shouldn't be able to do so, but in practice, I'd be willing to bet it'd result in a dropped call after no more than 10 seconds, again, even assuming that you're making perfect locks on each tower.

     

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  18. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:33am

    HA! Yet again Mike's re-write totally hosed the case:

    Note Mike's emphasis that I've italicized: "Numerous people have talked about the ridiculousness of requiring airplane passengers to put away their iPads or other portable devices during takeoff and landing on airplanes."

    Now my emphasis from the ref'd piece: "wider in-flight use of electronic portable devices during airplane flights." And later again "during flights".

    THE SOURCE DOESN'T APPEAR TO MENTION TIMES THAT MIKE FOCUSED ON. And I'd be surprised if does, because of missile hazard at those times. He's got all you ankle-biters barking down the wrong trail!

    Obviously Little Mikey is upset he's ever told to put his toy away for a while during those most likely times, and isn't concerned about getting hit in back of the head by one of those gadgets.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:37am

    Re: FCC Boss

    There was, but then he got given an iPad and it stole his money.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:39am

    Re: HA! Yet again Mike's re-write totally hosed the case:

    ah, the back of the trope. too bad it was already debunked long before you came along, toots.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:39am

    Re: HA! Yet again Mike's re-write totally hosed the case:

    You do know that America isn't the world, right?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    Re: Re: HA! Yet again Mike's re-write totally hosed the case:

    back of the head trope, even

     

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  23.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: HA! Yet again Mike's re-write totally hosed the case:

    This isn't a subject that's talked about too often here, so he had to spend time coming up with a moronic "point" to attack Mike with instead of copying and pasting one he's used before. I'm sure next time this comes up, he'll be the first post.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:51am

    Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    To be more clear for those who are not Americans, the FCC and FAA are both agencies of the United States Government.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:51am

    Re: HA! Yet again Mike's re-write totally hosed the case:

    I would like to point out that electronic devices are already allowed from the time the plane reaches 10,000ft, and are allowed until the plane goes back down to 10,000ft, so it could be easily infered, despite your protestations, that the times Genechowski is referring to would then be the following: taxi, takeoff, approach, and landing.

    So, the source may not have directly mentioned it, but there is no other time it could have been referring to.

    Critical thinking, for the win.

    Missle hazard? what a joke. They allow books and magazines during all times of cabin occupancy. So much for that argument.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Safety?

    More FUD but one that has just enough true in it to make it scary.

    Electricity in contact with air produces ozone with in significant amounts is a toxic gas.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 6:52am

    strange how the powers that be over anything and everything ignore pleas from 1,000s of people but jump as soon as one person in a similarly powerful position says the same thing. shows how much notice is taken of and how much influence the people have, eh? i guess as long as we are paying money to who wants it and are voting for who wants a better position, it's fine. try for anything else, and totally ignored is the (lack of) response

     

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  28.  
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    GM Samaras, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    Re: Safety?

    Rather be hit by a nice hardcover book? It is way overdue to get past the failed attempt to monopolize airborne communications. There never was an electromagnetic interference problem!
    GM Samaras Pueblo CO

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    You know what's scary?

    Dihydrogen monoxide.

     

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  30.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    Methane gas in large enough amounts can make big explosions.. Though people still fart in elevators!

    And one of the most toxic gases on the planet is actually oxygen.

    Both of those statements are true but lack context.

    Whereas with the current subject of aircraft there is absolutely NO truth in the notion that digital devices can interfere with the instrumentation, electronics, or electrical systems of planes and airfields. There have been NO documented instances of digital devices causing failures of aircraft system. There have been no documented cases of digital devices causing safety injuries by themselves or by their batteries or otherwise 'blowing up' due to the aircraft taking off or landing or anything else anyone could conceivably think of.

    It's only scary because people still do not, to this day, understand how electricity and by extension radio actually works. It's still to the average person PFM (For those that have never seen it before this acronym stands for Pure Fucking Magick! in most technical journals)

     

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  31.  
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    Brian, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:05am

    Uhhhhhhh....

    Everyone is missing the obvious....

    Why not just ask everyone to put their devices in AIRPLANE MODE?

     

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  32.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Re: HA! Yet again Mike's re-write totally hosed the case:

    IGNORANUS - adj: A person who is not only ignorant, but is also an asshole. eg: out_of_the_blue is absolutely and unashamedly an Ignoranus

    nuff said

     

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  33.  
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    Pat, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:09am

    FINE but you will scratch our back

    Dear FCC,
    We at the FAA will gladly allow you to use your Ipad and other devices during take-offs and landings, if you allow Pornography on our airlines and on TV. I'm tired of having to launch open my computer and Launch Internet Explorer during the flight to watch some.

    Yours Truly,
    FAA

     

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  34.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re:

    Whenever this topic comes up there's always someone who tries to tell us that you can't connect to cell towers from planes. I've even seen the claim being made by someone asserting his superior knowledge as an engineer. I can tell you it is absolute nonsense.
    Yes, you can connect to cell towers without any difficulty whatsoever while in airplanes.
    The rule banning cell phones in the air was put in place in 1993. Before the ban went into effect I was able to use my cell phone while on commercial aircraft. Such calls did not appear to me, or the person on the other end to be any different than any other cell phone call.
    And by the way, there were no dropped calls so long as we were near any cities or major highways.

     

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  35.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:11am

    Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Dear commenter,

    There is this new-fangled technology called a search engine. I hear there are quite a few of them on the interwebs. If you type FCC or FAA in the search box, it returns the results, Federal Communications Commission or Federal Aviation Administration, respectively. Just saying.

     

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  36.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: Safety?

    > Besides the fact that the back of your head is protected by the seat you are in

    Clearly, you've never flown Spirit.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    For Unidentified Flying Objects that is pretty thematically appropriate! :)

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Yeah, well, who are the FBB ?

    Who are the FBB? † Sure, you know all about the FAA and the FCC, but the FBB óówho are they? † Who the hell are they? † Who the fucking hell are they? † Bet you don't know, smart guy... † Cat got your tongue? † Huh? What you say? Ha!

    And don't let me get started on the FZZ.

     

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  39.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's due to the line of sight that is sooooooooo much better in aircraft, though the faraday cage problem he refers to is sometimes a concern its easily overcome by a mobile repeater in planes with that other MAGICk witchery called multiplexing.. ooooh witchcraft!

    It's not a concern in light planes AT ALL!

    The real reason was more to do with commercial concerns (charge heaps for the amazing ability to call from the aircraft) than the switching and hand-off of cell towers, which can easily handle standard commercial jet speeds (and more) no problem up and down built up areas that actually have towers in place. For example the whole east coast of Australia (3000kms or more) is easily traversed whilst conversing on a mobile in a plane.

    And whoever the engineer was, I suspect they suffered from that ubiquitous of maladies the ID-TEN-T error!

     

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  40.  
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    booksbenji, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Kienda, I don't how old or what country u are from and u do read English. Newpaper and mags have been using these abbreviations since the 1930's wken these agencies were created!!!!!

     

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  41.  
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    Minimum Wage Shill, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:53am

    But think of all the terrorists that can use this technology to communicate with other terrorists and to control the airplane during its takeoff and landing!!!

     

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  42.  
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    Greg G (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    The FBB is the Federal Bureau of Bullshit.

    It's primary responsibility is telling the American public what they want us to believe, and to attempt to hide what is really going on. This is known as Bullshitting.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    How did you manage to survive all the crashes you caused?

     

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  44.  
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    Aircraft Tech, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:14am

    Ignorance is bliss.....

    "There used to be excuses about how it could impact the equipment in the plane, but no one actually believes that anymore"

    We'll actually, I still believe it.
    I've worked in the Aviation Industry for a quite a while and I specializing in communications.

    That instrument in the front of the aircraft, you know, the one that the pilots use to land the aircraft in poor weather, It's called the ILS (Instrument Landing System) and it works in MICROAMPs, that's microamps people (1 millionth of an amp).
    75 microamps out and your flying outside the optimum square and at 150 microamps the "needle" is pegged at its stops. Thatís not a lot of space for errors....
    The "radio" that produces that signal from the ground is putting out about 5 to 20 Watts. By the time it hits the aircraft itís down to less than 20 microwatts.

    The problem with modern radio equipment (cellphones, wifi bluetooth) is that they are frequency agile (they work on a range of frequencies). This means that the transmitter has very little filtering on the output. Thatís not a problem on its own but antennas work both ways (they transmit and receive).
    The problem is when another frequency is received and mixed with the transmit frequency new frequencies are created (that are no longer filtered out). It's when these new frequencies coincide with the ILS frequencies that the problem happens. The signal from the ILS is swamped by the frequency coming from inside the aircraft and blam! the aircraft flies itself into the ground.
    Did I mention cellphones turn up their transmitter power if they are not in communications with a cell site?

    Oh! and why do we need to turn off all electronic equipment... well they transmit signals as well, that latest high speed quad core whatever you're so proud of, runs at radio frequencies... It radiates like a small star!

    So it won't be the fault of a single cellphone that takes down an aircraft and it seriously wonít be on a nice day. It will be on a stormy night where the pilots will be relying on their ILS because they can't see the ground and people sitting in the back of the aircraft, smug in the (incorrect) knowledge that it doesn't really matter about turning off their cellphone or laptop or ipad.
    One day you'll be in for a rude awakening, but don't worry, it won't hurt for long........

     

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  45.  
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    James, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re:

    Wrong about that. Turn your phone back on / off flight mode and you will get a perfectly acceptable signal whist over land. The hight of a plane is not a lot compared to the distance on the ground between a cell tower and the phone. You do change cells very quickly.
    What you do get when flying in Europe is a lot of "welcome to This network" texts as you change countries.

     

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  46.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Federal Bureau of Botheringtheabsolutehelloutofmebynotlettingmeleavemydamntabletonduringtakoffs.

     

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  47.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re:

    I think more to point is the fact that airplanes are effectively a giant faraday cage, and once you're 7 miles in the air, you're not going to be able to lock a tower.

    I used to hear that claim from people a decade ago, but it's simply not true. At all. You can lock onto towers just fine.

    Even supposing that you did, you'd be wreaking merry havoc on the towers as you switch towers somewhere around once a second, there's no theoretic reason that you shouldn't be able to do so, but in practice, I'd be willing to bet it'd result in a dropped call after no more than 10 seconds, again, even assuming that you're making perfect locks on each tower.

    Also, not true. For the most part, they can handle tower switching without too much difficulty, but even in the cases where there are tower switching issues, that's easily solved by putting a pico cell on the plane -- effectively making the plane itself the nearest cell tower with some sort of wireless backhaul to the ground. That's a solved problem, and it's why you can do WiFi on so many planes now.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:40am

    Re:

    No, wrong again. Cellphones are banned in flight mainly because the technology doesn't work well in the air. Actually most building over about 30 floors have problems with cellphones unless the building has internal cell sites.

    Cell towers are placed so that channels are reused. In dense city environments, a channel may be reused only a mile or so away. In rural environments, it may be 10 miles.

    Get in an airplane and get up to 10,000 feet and you have direct line of sight to every tower in the city. And you can't get a clear channel. Your phone won't be able to make a call because there are 50 other people on the same channel.

     

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  49.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re: Safety?

    Aren't all the electronics in a jetliner shielded anyway?

     

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    Jeremy, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:50am

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    ...The signal from the ILS is swamped by the frequency coming from inside the aircraft and blam! the aircraft flies itself into the ground.


    This assumes the pilot is stupid enough to actually crash the aircraft without looking at the ground outside the window, it also assumes that the error caused by RF interference will only cause the ground to look lower than it is. The error is likely unknown for any individual situation, and quite possibly correctable with the human brain.


    Oh! and why do we need to turn off all electronic equipment... well they transmit signals as well, that latest high speed quad core whatever you're so proud of, runs at radio frequencies... It radiates like a small star!


    Small stars are the size of Jupiter and generally too emissive to fly next to with your average jetliner. Are you really trying to insinuate that leakage RF from a CPU/rf-quiescent portable electronic device is anything more than pico/femptoamps of power by the time it gets to a critical system in a plane?

    Portable electronics are safe on planes. Now, if someone is bringing on their portable ham radio, well that's a different matter. But don't give me this nonsense about having to turn off my kindle before takeoff and landing. That's a device that is off by default.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:53am

    Re: Uhhhhhhh....

    Obviously you have no idea what Airplane Mode is and how it is important, but not really that important.

    Airplane Mode on most devices, turn off the explicit transmitters, the telephone, Bluetooth, 802.11c, etc. but it leaves the electronics to operate the device on.

    But anything that is electronic is actually a transmitter. Something as simple as a light dimmer can be a powerful dimmer, capable of being heard for miles. The FCC has created laws that make sure that an electronic device can not radiate too much signal. It still does, and it can still interfere with certain things. Put an AM radio next to a computer and you can hear the interference.

    But the level of interference that the FCC certifies stuff at is low enough that it shouldn't impact anything in the aircraft. There were instance, before the FCC passed the law, where devices did put off enough interference to cause problems with an aircraft's avionics, but that was 50 years ago.
    Since then, the aircraft have been better protected and the devices regulated.

    Now, the laughable part of this is that a number of airlines have started giving their flight crews tablets to use in the cockpits for explicit use during takeoff and landings. Heck, they provide the very maps used to guide the plans.

     

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    Jeremy, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    replace amps with watts

     

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    nasch (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:57am

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    and why do we need to turn off all electronic equipment... well they transmit signals as well, that latest high speed quad core whatever you're so proud of, runs at radio frequencies... It radiates like a small star!

    I'm now wondering what exactly your job description is after this claim that my tablet radiates energy like a small star. Not to mention stating that it "runs at" radio frequencies. Just because both processor clock speed and transmission frequency are both measured in hertz doesn't mean they are related in any way.

     

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    nasch (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    This assumes the pilot is stupid enough to actually crash the aircraft without looking at the ground outside the window

    If they're flying on instruments it's because they can't see the ground.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The cellphone world was a LOT different in 1993. And no, I will absolutely guarantee you that you did not have interference free calls for any length of time what-so-ever.
    About the only time that you can get a successfully call is during the most critical phase of flight, less than 2,000 ft above ground and flying near the stall speed. Only in that configuration can the cellular system support the call request and process the handoffs between towers quick enough.

    Look it up, what's the fastest hand-off speeds? How often are channels reused in metropolitan areas?

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, you get great signal. That's because you can hear a thousand cell sites at the same time. But try to make a call or send some data.

    There are numerous times that I (and others) have left their phones on accidentally during flight. They don't ring at 30,000 feet. But get down below 5,000 and all of the sudden you start hearing "You have mail" messages starting to go off.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:07am

    Re:

    Huh? If a terrorist is control of an aircraft, they have a whole bay of avionics that they can use to talk to other aircraft.

     

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  58.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    The entire government put together has it's own acronym?

     

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  59.  
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    shawnubis, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:13am

    Re: Safety?

    if there's an aborted take off or rough landing, getting hit in head with something as insignificant as an iPad is the least of your concern. Grow some

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:14am

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    And as others have mentioned, an aircraft is a pretty good Faraday cage. So where are all of these offending devices located? Inside the aircraft?
    Where are all of the aircraft's antennas located? Outside the aircraft.

    One of the key requirements for most parts of the flight guidance system is a working/failed indicator. If a system is receiving a valid signal, then it indicates that it is working. If it starts to receive a bad signal, then it indicates that it is bad.
    And in the case, as you said, people are sitting in the back complacent, the pilots see their instruments start to indicate invalid information and they can generally implement a recovery maneuver with no impact to flight safety. Remember, the generally it's not one system providing fight guidance, it's two or three or more.

     

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  61.  
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    shawnubis, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:14am

    Re: SHIT...... Rich and powerful people say

    Uh...I'm not rich or powerful, and find the rule to be BS. Especially if I'm just playing a game on a portable device and there aren't any FCC regs to even involve me. No transmitter or reciever, and I have to put my device away. REALLY? BS

     

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  62.  
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    shawnubis, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Safety?

    amen

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Yea, just because the processor and transmission frequency are the same, DOES mean they are related.

    That quad-core definitely puts out signals that can be heard on a receiver.

    On some of the really early computers like the TRS-80 and Apple, there were actually programs that played music over a AM radio by adjusting the speed of the processor.

     

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  64.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are *completely* wrong!!!
    I can give you an example of a call that is very memorable to me. About 3 weeks before the ban I was flying from San Francisco to Seattle. The flight happened to pass over my hometown in Oregon. I was able to look out the right side window and identify my parents' property. I called my mother on the cell phone and told her to go outside and look for a plane in the sky to the west. She was able to see the plane I was flying on. That call was made at cruising altitude, and as I said above, there was no problem whatsoever with the call. The only point I can award you is that yes, the call was only 2-3 minutes long. I didn't have a 30 minute conversation, but kept it short was because I didn't want to annoy the person sitting next to me. I certainly didn't hang up because the call dropped.

    Don't think that you can use theory to debunk actual experience.

     

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  65.  
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    FuzzyDuck, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:25am

    Re:

    "And get rid of cell phone bans to."

    So looking forward to sitting next to someone on a plane talking for hours on end about his or her unimportant shitty life.

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:29am

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Clearly you have no idea how radio signals get put together...

    First they build the signal with a carrier frequency of 0 hz, then they stick it through the band filter. Only after that do they shift it up to the higher frequency and if they are only transmitting on the the + frequency side, they'll stick it through a generic high pass filter.

    So being frequency agile doesn't actually affect the leakage, that's just due to them using a cheap filter to begin with.

    Next i'd like to point out that in power stations where they have MVA transformers sitting around they are able to accurately read analog transmitters (in fact a lot of digital comms simply don't work in these areas) by simply using a standard shielded cable.

    A quick google search shows 75 *possible* cases where electronic devices might have affect instruments in airplanes as reported by the international Air Transport Association between 2003 and 2009. That's a 6 year period in which thousands of flights took place every year. None of these flights flew into the ground.

    There are many factors that can affect induced currents, including simple orientation, and proximity. Now as everyone is so up in arms over this sort of thing one would expect that manufacturers of such instruments would be testing these devices against all sorts of electronics and types of intereference to make sure that the instruments themselves are properly shielded (easier to shield the instrument than depend on electronics to be properly shielded). Given that antennaes and induced currents caused by electronics with changing currents are no longer theoretical or experimental sciences, it's long past time when such things should be expected by design. If older planes aren't protected... place a warning on that plane. Lets get rid of this blanket fear-mongering for a transportation system that is currently the safest form of transportation to date.

     

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  67.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Again, count me as extremely skeptical.

    You refer to the idea that the existence of too many potential cell tower connections would be a problem. Hypothetically your cell phone on-board a plane could be switching to a new stronger signal every few seconds.
    Even if this did cause problems for the service providers, perhaps from a billing/minutes accounting standpoint, I don't think the actual phone user would have a problem.

    It should be observed however, that if the service providers WANTED to make this possible, it would be easy to control frequent tower switching with programming in the phone which would limit the frequency of switches when multiple connections are present. Think of the way your thermostat prevents frequent on-off cycling by being programmed not to immediately switch on the furnace just because the temperature has dropped one degree below target.

    **Bonus Patent Idea**
    It would even be possible for software to go beyond time delay limitations and address the issue in a more sophisticated way by using the phone's position and speed to calculate the flight vector and predict the best tower to switch to next in a way that would reduce the number of necessary switching events while maintaining optimal signal.

     

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  68.  
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    ChimpObama McBinLadenBurton, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 9:53am

    Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Dear Kienda Hoji,

    I can only assume that with a name such as yours, you are perhaps Japanese, that is to say, living outside the USA, and as such not familiar with the acronyms FAA and FCC. That would be the only excuse for asking for an in-line definition for those acronyms.

    Otherwise, if you are reading Techdirt and daring to comment in a chastising tone, you best know those acronyms without assistance.

    Oh, and yes... Either way, you could have just looked them up if you didn't know them. How easy does the world have to be these days? Perhaps we could send someone over to wipe your ass for you?

    COMBB

    PS: FTFU and RTFM

     

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  69.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Have you ever had someone say that they tried unsuccessfully to call you when you know you had your phone while in flight, or has it just never happened, so you assume that it can't happen?
    Also, did you consider the possibility that the cell carriers may be using tower multilateration, GPS, and/or speed calculations to identify the fact that your cell phone is on a commercial flight, and thereby actively block in-coming calls?

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    Does this mean that Julius Genachowski has now been added to the no-fly list for uttering statements critical of security procedures?

     

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  71.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And no, I will absolutely guarantee you that you did not have interference free calls for any length of time what-so-ever.

    What are you saying, he imagined that normal phone call he only thought he made from an airplane?

     

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  72.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Yea, just because the processor and transmission frequency are the same, DOES mean they are related.

    That quad-core definitely puts out signals that can be heard on a receiver.


    My point is that just because my processor runs at one GHz does not mean the aircraft systems will be picking up a 1GHz radio signal. Yeah maybe if you have an antenna sitting right next to the thing you'll pick something up, but seriously these things are designed with low power consumption as a primary consideration. You think they're going to let watts go to waste as radiated noise?

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 10:29am

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    If this were true, you would have angry pilots storming the back of the plane ALL THE TIME demanding to know who left their device on. They'd see the effect on the ILS even if they weren't using just that to land. Heck, they'd CONFISCATE all electronic devices if they thought there was even a small chance that this would bring down ONE plane.

    And I think a cell phone has a maximum output of about 2 watts. So if the ILS signal is only 5 to 20 watts, then a cellphone (or several) ON THE GROUND at an airport - or maybe on a road, twice as close to the plane as the airport - would be a major problem, if they really used the same frequency.

    But it seems like we don't see a lot of cases of airplanes homing in on pedestrians with cell phones. Or cell towers, presumably broadcasting on the same frequency as the phone with even MORE power.

    But maybe... just maybe... electronic devices in general, even those that switch frequencies, are programmed to NOT use the restricted aviation bands? Just a thought. It's not like you turn on your cell phone and get interference on your FM radio (which is surprisingly close to the frequencies used by ILS - if you could tune your FM up to 108.1 you'd be at the start of those frequencies.)

     

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  74.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    That's a 6 year period in which thousands of flights took place every year.

    Actually I think it's tens of thousands per day. So millions per year.

     

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  75.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: SHIT...... Rich and powerful people say

    I believe the issue might be that all electronic devices give off radio noise and the FCC checks all of them to make sure that such emissions are within a certain strength and frequency specifications. The claim is that even such low level and focused transmissions that are considered harmless elsewhere would be an issue to the navigation and autopilot controls during critical flight functions. As pointed out elsewhere, unlikely.

     

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  76.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    If they are only flying on instruments it is because they can't see and can't communicate with the tower. The radar in the tower should be able to pick up a wrong descend, same should several other instruments in the plane. While ILS might be a problematic technology in itself, the amount of safety you get from the tower communication and several instruments like altometer should be enough to assure a safe landing. If the ILS is the only problem for getting phones in airplanes, I do not understand why they keep the system up. The alternatives in GPS-technologies should completely obsolete the need for it.

     

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  77.  
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    Aircraft Tech, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    replace amps with watts, not a bad idea but ammeters don't use watts.

    Last time I did a ILS cal flight we were still claibrating in microamps. e.g. so many microamps off centre....blah blah.

     

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  78.  
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    Aircraft Tech, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Just because both processor clock speed and transmission frequency are both measured in hertz doesn't mean they are related in any way.

    Actually, they are

     

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  79.  
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    Aircraft Tech, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    I think you missed my point....


    A single cellphone/Laptop etc left on won't down an aircraft, two won't but allow them to all be left on - it won't take long.

    Cellphones don't transmit on ILS frequencies but the mixing of frequencies will one day generate the right frequency and blam....

    As aircraft age cables age and corrodes the quality of signal reception degrades and they will become more susceptable to these effects.

     

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  80.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    But, if you were able to use your cell phone you wouldn't use the air phone that costs $5/Min.

     

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  81.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Re: FINE but you will scratch our back

    I'd hate to be your I.T. guy having to fix all those malware issues you constantly get by using Internet Explorer to browse porn.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Agreed.

    If we lift the ban on mobile phones in planes then we also need to lift the ban on weapons in planes and the ban on murder.

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 4:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    If you look at ILS, it is a weak technology to begin with. It is a shame the aircraft companies got an extention of it lobbied through by holding out on MLS. Now we have to rely on WAAS which is very good and the worse LAAS-system which actually to some degree suffer from the same problems as ILS.
    MLS is just that much better for high precission landings and it is a shame that it is only really getting deployed in Europe.

     

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  84.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Techdirt is so bad at sarcasm detection

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 5:11pm

    Better to put away than being a smoking hole in the ground. I remeber shooting approachs with the searchlight on and off. It sure did change the location I flew to gain sight of the runway to land. Turn them off to be safe!!!!!!!!

     

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  86.  
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    Jeremy, Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    If you were calibrating ILS in microAMPS, then you're clearly talking apples/oranges if you're trying to relate that to RF interferance. RF power is measured in Watts/dB, not amps. So really, you don't know what you're talking about.

     

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  87.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    Yep highly shielded, in fact Commercial Jetliners actually are shielded against EMP as well in some systems.. they even use tiny valves. Yes VALVES!

     

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  88.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Oh My freakin GAWD!

    So, what aircraft are you currently licensed to sign off systems on? hmmmm? Me I'm 747 (300 and 400 series) plus 767 (238ER and 338ER ) licenced for all avionics (that's radar, electronics, instrumentation and electrical - though you should know that) as well as Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce qualified under 747's. With 707 thrown in for good measure.

    The reason I ask is that you have no idea whatsoever of what you are spouting off about, and the comment regarding the cables is proof positive that you have never ever been involved with aircraft maintenance procedures in commercial airliners who have rotating maintenance schedules that specifically in the electrical area change whole cable looms all the time.

    The "mixing" of frequencies that you so casually claim has no scientific basis under known physics and even if a high end energy spike (piezo lighters are more inclined to do it then any mobile device EVER) did interfere with the ILS, TACAN, or even VOR it is robust enough being highly error checked to compensate for it.

    wow.. just freakin wow!

     

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  89.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:27pm

    Re: Safety?

    > I for one don't want to get hit in the back of the
    > head by a flying iPad in case of an aborted take off
    > or rough landing.

    And yet strangely enough if you're reading a hardcover book, they don't make you put that away for takeoff and landing, even though such books are typically bigger and heavier than an iPad.

     

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  90.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    > And one of the most toxic gases on the planet
    > is actually oxygen.

    Toxic to what?

     

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  91.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    I think MLS (which being Australian I actually worked on a bit via Interscan way back when) is great though GPS is better, except for the runway threshold problems (and lets not forget about its integrity probs and its ownership by US Mil).

    A combination of GPS and MLS would be best IMO.

     

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  92.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Dec 10th, 2012 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    > One day you'll be in for a rude awakening, but don't worry,
    > it won't hurt for long

    If all that were true, we'd already have carnage in the skies, since most people *don't* turn off their phones and iPads. They just don't actively use them where the flight attendants can see them. But they're on by the dozens, in their bags, and on their belts, and in their purses. On every single flight, every day.

    If there was even the slightest chance that a cell phone could bring down a plane, they'd be banned just as thoroughly as guns and knives.

     

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  93.  
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    whatever, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 2:41am

    Re: Re: Uhhhhhhh....

    The noise you hear when putting audio equipment next to computers actually comes from your computer's power supply. (probably just via induction, idk I'm not quite the right kind of engineer for this) It's not transmitting anything, to the best of my knowledge.

     

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  94.  
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    Mr. Applegate, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    So let me get this straight. It is OK for a flight crew to use an iPad inches from an instrument, but it is not OK for someone 70' away with multiple metal partitions between them and the instrumentation to even turn on a device.

    Got it!

    Oh, and while I don't have any real experience in aviation electronics I do have an electronics background, I am pretty sure it is more robust than you claim. Otherwise, terrorists would routinely 'bring down' planes using ILS all the time.

    There are more robust alternatives to ILS. As of November 2008 the FAA listed more LPV (Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance) systems than ILS systems. Another enhanced system called Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS).

    Oh and let's look at the frequency ranges. They look to all be between 108.10 MHz and 330.95 MHz while cell phones operate at between 700 - 2,690 MHz.

    Finally, the pilots could always request (read demand) that electronic devices be turned off if they were using ILS or felt the devices were affecting the avionics.

     

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  95.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 4:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    Steel! and no sadly not to John Steele ;)

    Actually oxygen at low pressure (ie: in elevated environs like mountains or space or at partial pressure at scuba depths ) is highly toxic to humans, mostly resulting in pulmonary fibrosis even blindness.. This is why babies are not given 100% oxygen any more in humidycribs either.

    Also if you scuba dive any more than 22% oxygen can result in absolute seizures below about 60metres (from memory) though 100% oxygen at less than 6metres depth will most likely than not give major seizures. It affects not just the lungs bit the central nervous system.. basically oxidises your insides.. So if the Nitrogen doesn't give you the bends the oxygen can rust ya.. Scary hey? ;)

     

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  96.  
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    Niall (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re: Re: SHIT...... Rich and powerful people say

    Last time I looked, anything with a temperature above absolute zero gives off radio noise. What about all those unshielded big bags of mostly water at 309K?

     

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  97.  
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    really?, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 6:00am

    Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Who doesnt know what the FCC and FAA are seriously? No reason to be rude to the writter when it took more time to do that then jus searching it up!

     

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  98.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    It's elevated partial pressure of oxygen that causes oxygen toxicity, not oxygen at low pressure: "Central nervous system toxicity is caused by short exposure to high concentrations of oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure. Pulmonary and ocular toxicity result from longer exposure to elevated oxygen levels at normal pressure."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_toxicity

     

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  99.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Who doesnt know what the FCC and FAA are seriously?

    I would assume people from other countries. Since this is explicitly a US-focused blog, I think those people should expect to have to look some things up now and then. It's hard to believe there could be any US Techdirt readers not familiar with the FCC and FAA (though I'm sure plenty of US citizens who are not).

     

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  100.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Uhhhhhhh....

    no it's not !!, it's from the CPY and the CPU's clock, which is a square wave (waveform), as you know a square wave is comprised of the fundamental frequency and it's odd harmonics. Also the modulation method of cell phones being digital has very fast turn on/turn of frequencies, and whenever you change the state of a signal it is the rate of change of the signal that causes the RFI (radio frequency interference).

    it's not really an issue with the instruments in the aircraft, but the vast quantities of wiring through the plane that connects the instruments to the sensors, the interference is on the low level signal lines and fed into the instruments in that manner.

    there have been real work tests and trials using actual real aircraft, and actual real phones and radio's and yes, it was clear that the rapidly switching signal can and DOES often cause errors on these instruments.

    Often not noticeable errors, in that your HEADING indicator might be a "bit off", or your altitude might be 20 metres of so out..

    No big deal you might think, unless that 20 metres is the top of a mountain.

    If you don't like turning off your phone during take off and landings, you probably would really not like a CFIT (controlled flight into terrain).

    So turn off your freaking phones, and I am sure you will get over the distress of being disconnected for a few minutes.

    the real live tests were performed on commercial aircraft, as well as military aircraft using both scientific radio transmitting equipment, and standard cell phones.

    The FCC head can whine all he likes, and so can you, but it's not going to change the facts, don't expect to be able to use your phone on any aircraft during the critical take off and landing procedures.

     

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  101.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "effectively a giant faraday cage"

    with ALL THE FREAKING WIRINGS for the aircraft within that faraday cage, the aircraft is also effectively a resonant cavity, (just look it up)..

     

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  102.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    it's a trivial side issue you fell down there !!! :)

    but cell phones that can see many cells, simple pick the cell with the shortest response time and therefore the closest.

    It might be able to see many towers, but it will take the first tower that responds that it will talk to, the first is usually the closest, for obvious reasons.

     

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  103.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re: effectively a giant faraday

    "effectively a giant faraday"

    IF it was, you would not be able to see any towers with your phone, as the signal would not be able to penetrate the aircraft.

    is that the case ???

    clearly not, therefore that statement is false.

     

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  104.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    yes, and the new ones create far more RFI than the analogue models from 1993 that used things like AMPS.

     

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  105.  
    identicon
    Mario, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    If you don't know either the FCC or FAA...what are you doing reading Techdirt?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  106.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    bullshit,,

     

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  107.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    yes, the electronics are, but wires are not, and all wires are also antennas, it's the low level signals from the various sensors that are affected, and fed into the shielded electronics along with the desired signal, you just cannot shield the system, or stop RF from affecting the sensors.

    if your flight sensors are not accurately indicating like AIR SPEED, ALTITUDE, HEADING, BANK !!! you can fairly expect the pilots to want those indicators being accurate during critical flight times, that is during take offs and landings.

    you don't want to be landing in the rain, at night, using IFR and be 5Deg of heading !!, or have your altitude indicate you are 50 metres higher than you actually are.

     

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  108.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Uhhhhhhh....

    lol @ pilots flying 20 meters from a mountain top.

    the real live tests were performed on commercial aircraft, as well as military aircraft using both scientific radio transmitting equipment, and standard cell phones.

    Has it been published on the web? That would be excellent information to add to the discussion if so.

     

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  109.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Re: SHIT...... Rich and powerful people say

    idiot

     

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  110.  
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    Benjo (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 5:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    I'm an embedded engineer, and this what you are saying is completely non-relevant. RF noise generated by processor/IC noise is absolutely negligible when compared to noise generated by Wifi and other antennas, which happen to operate at different band frequencies than those used by commercial airplanes (I would imagine, barring awful design decisions).

     

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  111.  
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    Benjo (profile), Dec 11th, 2012 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    You might work in the "Aviation Industry" but you don't know anything about physics or engineering. Don't pretend to.

     

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  112.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Uhhhhhhh....

    I expect it has been, it was also done on the Mythbusters show at one stage, and they too found errors introduced into navigation instruments. Only slight errors, but that all you need, doing 600kmh

     

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  113.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

    and the reason why they tell you to turn off games during critical take off/ landings is that any electronics, if a fault develops it can turn itself into a radio transmitter.

    an amplifier can easily become an oscillator if a fault occurs, that means your electronics toy could develop a fault and generate the aircraft self-destruct protocol (I bet you didn't know about that !!!) and cause all sorts of problems.

    It would be very rare for it to happen, but you only need it to happen once to you, to be enough.

     

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  114.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 12:35am

    Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    close, and a good description, but microamps, and milliamps are two different things.

    1x10-6
    1x10-9

     

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  115.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 10:11am

    Re:

    OK... so commercial aircraft have self destruct devices now?
    It is quite implausible that anyone charged in protecting public safety would want a device with explosive potential on-board commercial aircraft, as it would increase the risk of further damage or loss of life in the event of a crash. Why would authorities want to take the risk that a lessor problem such as a landing gear malfunction turns into a major tragedy? Even if this device did exist, the potential to remotely trigger it raises the possibility not only that a terrorist might somehow become aware of this secret device and search for ways to trigger it, (How secret could if be if it truly exists, and yet we are talking about it here on Techdirt) but also there would always be the small possibility that someone with inside knowledge of the device could become psychiatrically deranged with murderous intent and decide to bring a plane down. After all, such an action would be much safer for the psychiatric patient than going into a theater with a loaded assault weapon.
    In short, I call BS.
    Now what about your ideas that a consumer electronic device could malfunction and begin emitting radio waves that would trigger such a self destruct mechanism, and further that this is a reason why electronic devices can't be allowed during take-off and landing? If this were true, electronic devices would not be any safer in mid-flight than during landing. Wouldn't a plane falling from 36,000 feet when this 'self-destruct' mechanism inadvertently triggered be more terrifying and horrific than a much briefer fall from 300 feet?

     

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  116.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 12th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Couldn't you bother to fact check even a little bit, before chiming in with the posters who were low on facts and high on FUD?
    FACT: Analogue circuits are more vulnerable to RFI than their digital counterparts.
    FACT: When comparing cell phones, the older AMPS phones had the greatest susceptibility to RFI, followed by D-AMPS phones. Fully digital phones are less susceptible.

     

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  117.  
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    Sandra Boyelstien, Dec 12th, 2012 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Safety?

    Not to mention the on the lap infants allowed to ride without being buckled. I'd rather be hit by a kindle.

     

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  118.  
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    AIrcraft Tech., Dec 14th, 2012 @ 12:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    ILS ARE calibrated in microamps, the measurement is the difference in the 90Hz and 150hz sidebands that the aircrafts recieved. The detected 90 Hz is applied to one side of an ammeter and the detected 150Hz is applied to the other, the ammeter is centred if poth are equal and "pegged if the difference between the two is greater than 150 microAMPS.

    So I really do know what I'm talking about.
    Why don't you try looking things up before you try to make people look stupid...!

     

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  119.  
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    Aircraft Tech, Dec 14th, 2012 @ 12:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Towers no longer use Prescision Approach Radar. Controllers do not follow any radar while aircraft are landing.

    GPS is a radio signal that is even weaker than the ILS signal and is easily "swamped". It is currently being used as a Cat 1 landing system (lowest ICAO grade of ILS) but it will also stop working when passengers will be allowed to leave their electronic devices on.

     

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  120.  
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    Aircraft Tech, Dec 14th, 2012 @ 1:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Wow really, you don't know one of the most basic facts of radio transmission and reception - non linear devices mixed frequencies.

    So dual conversion super hetrodine receivers (the most common receiver type ever) doesn't work because there is no scientific basis for mixing of frequencies (So local oscillators don't mix with the incoming radio frequency to create an intermediate frequency).

    Can you please tell me what what airline you work for so I can avoid it!

     

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  121.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 14th, 2012 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    but it will also stop working when passengers will be allowed to leave their electronic devices on.

    The GPS receiver in my phone works fine while the phone is on, and that's a lot closer to an electronic device than the one on a plane is.

     

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  122.  
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    Wally (profile), Dec 14th, 2012 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re:

    Actually the AC is quite correct. Flight engineers have to keep their signals extra sensitive. You're allowed using them in flight, but that's because Airliners don't need the radio signals to be all that sensitive during a flight. Takeoff and landing require very sensitive equipment and the less chance of total interference or crosstalk the better.

     

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  123.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 14th, 2012 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I still have to go back to the lack of fiery crashes argument. It's totally implausible to suggest that everyone turns off their electronics for takeoff and landing. With the millions and millions of passenger-flights that have occurred since cell phones became common, I think the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that it's incredibly unlikely that they cause any harmful interference.

     

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  124.  
    identicon
    Aircraft Tech, Dec 14th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    I never mentioned milliamps 1x10-3.
    I was working in microamps 1x10-6.

    What you on about?

     

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  125.  
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    velox (profile), Dec 16th, 2012 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are addressing the question of sensitive equipment used to determine the aircraft's location relative to the ground and it makes sense that these systems would only be on during takeoffs and landings.

    I addressing another of the AC's arguments however. He was contending that there is a self-destruct device on-board airliners which he hypothesized could be triggered by interference from consumer electronics.

    A) I don't believe such devices exist.
    B) If they did exist, and interference triggering was possible, then electronic devices would never be allowed at any time during flight.

     

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  126.  
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    Ben (profile), Dec 16th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, it picks the strongest tower.

    And for others interest, cell tower switching is mostly a passive event. The phone and tower only actively communicate if the tower is in a new town/subdivision or country!

     

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  127.  
    identicon
    Chris Forsyth, Dec 17th, 2012 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Safety?

    Indeed, both that and oxygen are highly addictive--and withdrawl is invariably fatal. Nasty things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  128.  
    identicon
    Chris Forsyth, Dec 17th, 2012 @ 11:05pm

    Re: Re: Ignorance is bliss.....

    Indeed. And on top of this, if these sensors are being affected by the very minute effects of devices inside the vehicle, I'd think that external electrical effects like, oh, static charges due to air friction along the skin of the plane, charge buildup within a cloud mass (and the release of that charge, known as 'lightning', and other atmospheric ionization and radiation effects would make them completely worthless.

     

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  129.  
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    Ellian (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 6:25pm

    spy camera watch

    There used to be excuses about how it could impact the equipment in the plane, but no one actually believes that any more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  130.  
    identicon
    Nadiapkat, Dec 23rd, 2012 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Safety?

    You'd rather be bonked by a much heavier hardcover edition of Anna Karenina? Really?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  131.  
    identicon
    Nadiapkat, Dec 23rd, 2012 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Re: FCC AND FAA Who are they

    Maybe one of the many millions of non-Americans on this planet who are lucky enough NOT to live in the cultural backwater that the USA has become. What an arrogant post!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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