New Tech For In-Air Phone Use – And The Dangers Posed By In-Flight Entertainment Systems
While a new type of technology may let you use your mobile phone on a plane, it turns out that a much bigger danger to an airplane may come from an entirely different source. A company named AirCell claims they’ve come up with a technology that would let passengers use their own mobile phones while in-flight. Since there’s some evidence that mobile phones already work just fine from the air, you might wonder what the point is of this technology (other to ensure that your flight is filled with chattering people to annoy you). It sounds like it’s to guarantee a profit, by charging your mobile phone $1/minute for the privilege. At least that should cut down on the time you have to listen to your neighbor chatting away. The technology appears to do two specific things: (1) it tries to make sure mobile phone signals don’t interfere with cockpit equipment while (2) making sure the signals only travel to a single tower, instead of flooding multiple towers. There’s still some debate about how big a problem the “flooding multiple towers” issue is – but it certainly sounds like a reasonable solution, if it weren’t priced so high. Meanwhile, for all the talk about the “dangers” of mobile phones in the air, USA Today has done an extensive piece on how in-flight entertainment systems are a safety risk on many planes. Like the mobile phone stories, I’m a bit skeptical without more evidence. However, the story suggests that poor wiring and systems has caused many of these systems to catch fire, and many more planes with such systems are at risk. One amusing point from an industry consultant who points out these systems are really their to calm down nervous passengers, and now may be the biggest threat to them.