FAA Warns Guy Who Filmed Birds Striking Plane Engine

from the seems-sort-of-besides-the-point dept

You may recall a few weeks back that a Delta 757 leaving JFK on its way to LAX hit some birds on takeoff, damaging an engine, and requiring a quick turnaround back to JFK. The story got more interesting when it was revealed that one of the passengers on board just happened to be recording video out the window as the birds hit:


Of course, then the story went from interesting to silly, when the FAA decided that this YouTube video was evidence of wrongdoing and that it needed to “do something.” At least they decided that the extent of “doing something” would be to just send the passenger a warning letter, telling him that he was supposed to have all electronic devices turned off during takeoff, and that the letter would be the extent of their actions (though they mention that they could take legal action). The letter does say that it will remain on file for two years, after which it will be dumped.

The passenger, Grant Cardone, points out that this is all pretty ridiculous:

“To think that a device, a telephone or this iPad can take down a plane is ridiculous, because figure 90% of all people in America now have an iPhone on them,” Cardone said. “Nineteen percent of all people have a tablet of some sort. If only 10% of passengers on that plane had their device in the on position, thousands of planes would fall out of the sky every day.”

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Comments on “FAA Warns Guy Who Filmed Birds Striking Plane Engine”

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146 Comments
Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

This myth was busted.

So why all the fuss about phones? When you make a call at 10,000 feet, the signal bounces off multiple available cell towers, rather than one at a time. That means too many phone-happy jetsetters might clog up the networks on the ground, which is why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ? not the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) ? banned cell use on planes.

http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/db/transportation/cell-phones-interfere-plane-instruments.html

Nuff’ said.

Jeremy says:

Re: This myth was busted.

Most airliners cruise at around 30,000 feet, that’s 6 miles for those keeping count.

Cell phones generally don’t have enough power to hold a connection at 6 miles from any cell tower, and that’s not considering all the attenuation from being inside an aluminium can.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: This myth was busted.

Each of the airplane’s windows is significantly larger than the cell phone’s wavelength. Therefore it represents an extremely poor Faraday cage and probably won’t attenuate the signal all that much

Now, if the window was lined with metallic mesh (like the windows of MRI magnet rooms), you would get massive attenuation.

Also, most cell phones have problems because of the land. When you’re in the air like that, there aren’t many trees etc to get in your way. The thinner atmosphere also makes it easier for the signals to propagate.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This myth was busted.

but you also need to take into account that cell phones enlarge only use digital signals these days, and those signals are far more LOS(line of site) Dependant then older analog cell phones where.

so the plane is 6 miles up, but you also have to take into account the angle of the phone/window to towers, so most likely a minimum of 8-10 miles, and no, modern normal handset phones dont work at those ranges from my exp even when in direct line of site of a tower, older analog phones in some cases could and suitcase style phone today MAY(very hit and miss).

in the past when the rules where made, it was not done to protect planes or cell networks, it was to protect profits from airline controlled in fight phones, phones you rarely if ever see on domestic fights anymore.

this case is silly, its just somebody deciding that somebody had to do something……kinda like at my last major job when we would get memo’s telling us to do things XX way, then a few days later we would be told not to do it XX way, and so on, we all just kept doing things the way we always did them(you know the efficient way that worked) but somebody was doing something…..lol (all got worse when some moron cut off the end of his pinkey with a hot cable saw….idiot…)

velox says:

Re: Re: This myth was busted.

Jeremy: Are you trying to argue that you can’t make a call from 30,000 feet because the cell phone system won’t work?
If so, you are wrong. I had one of those old Motorola flip phones in 1993 and made an in-flight call about 2 weeks before the ban was announced. Reception was perfect.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This myth was busted.

How about people who go deaf immediately as they pressurize the cabin? I barely hear anything when they do that. So I can’t listen to the instructions. Do I get tossed around the cabin if an incident occurs?
No! Because I use common sense, and stay in my seats pretty much the whole time, most times even with my seatbelt on, even if the sign says that it’s safe for me to remove the belt.

Also quite a leap to go to: “people not paying attention are the ones that get tossed around the cabin”
What about people who’ve flown for years, they can recite it better than the flight attendants can.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: This myth was busted.

If an accident occurs chances are very few get out without injury regardless of instructions. Let us keep in mind the two largest causes of accidents are pilot error (that’s you, Dave) and poor maintenance. I’ve done SAR on both, and neither is pretty, but you can’t tell who was playing with a Gameboy and who was asleep.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This myth was busted.

> The real purpose is to encourage passengers
> to pay attention to what’s going on during
> takeoff and landing.

Even if that’s the reason, these rules still make no logical sense.

On one flight, I was told I couldn’t even hold my iPad on my lap. It had to be ‘stowed’ because– according to the skywaitress– it could become a dangerous missile in the event of turbulence.

I pointedly looked at the guy sitting next to me, who was holding a handcover book on his lap, twice the size and weight of my iPad, and which presumably could become an even more dangerous ballistic object, and after a moment of awkward silence in which she realized how little sense the ‘rule’ made, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know what to tell you. The rule says electronics can’t be held on the lap for safety reasons. It says nothing about books. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.”

Wonderful. So basically we have the airplane equivalent of “But it’s on the internet!”, where there’s a whole different and idiotic set of rules for things merely because “They’re new-fangled gizmos and they must be dangerous or something!”

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: This myth was busted.

> The whole intent is to keep people from
> fiddling with even more things, and not
> paying attention to what’s going on, during
> a complex part of the flight.

So why don’t they ban people from reading books and magazines, or talking to their friend in the seat next to them, or shutting their eyes and snoozing during takeoff and landing?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: This myth was busted.

So why all the fuss about phones? When you make a call at 10,000 feet, the signal bounces off multiple available cell towers, rather than one at a time. That means too many phone-happy jetsetters might clog up the networks on the ground, which is why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ? not the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) ? banned cell use on planes.

This is out of date and inaccurate.

1. BOTH the FCC and the FAA have banned the use of cell phones. Claiming it was one, but not the other, is false.

2. This “problem” was solved years ago with a simple solution: the pico cell (basically a cell tower attached to the plane that takes all the calls and routes them down to the ground.). This is already how most planes that have internet access work.

So, no, that’s not a problem any more.

Emily Z says:

Re: Re: Re: This myth was busted.

That IEEE report is AWESOME! It has actual data in it that’s extremely relevant to the conversation:

1. Between 1-4 cell phone calls are made per flight.
2. NASA has an ASRS database listing all incidents reported on flights. It suggests that as many as 23 incidents are due to PED interference each year.
3. Extrapolating from that, PED interference is a factor in an accident every 12 years. (More/legal electronic use would increase the risk of interference and accidents).
4. Samsung SPH-N300 cellphones had caused pilots’ GPS receivers to lose satellite lock, according to NASA.
5. FCC regulations don’t match FAA regulations, so electronics can legally interfere with aviation equipment (the Samsung’s RF was within FCC’s legal limits for interference in the GPS range).
6. They’ve found multiple devices stack on each other such that they cause interference together, but not separately.

This all makes me think that testing definitely needs to be done, and the current testing rules are kinda dumb. Really, instead of one unmanned flight for each device, they need to have flights with as many different devices as possible. (I think that these flights should be manned by volunteers who get that flight at half regular price to help pay for the tests).
Also, why on earth do they not have devices tracking these emissions on airplanes yet? IEEE put one in a carry-on bag, for Christ’s sake.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

I once flew with Iberia

and got told off for holding my Ebook reader in my hands (it’s an older model that doesn’t even have niceties like Wifi or other networking).

Next to me was a couple entertaining their (sick) baby with a DVD player, on the other side of the aisle a guy was talking on his phone, we were still standing still on the tarmac (and would remain so for about 1.5 hours), but I, and I alone, got told off “Sir, you mustn’t use electronic devices until after we’ve taken off”.

Lesson: The stewards and stewardesses have some weird ideas what constitutes an electronic device, and which might cause some interference. And besides the whole “you mustn’t use electronic devices” is plain bullshit.

Why would it be bad on the ground, but be perfectly okay during the flight?!

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: I once flew with Iberia

Oh and never fly Iberia.

Their idea of extra legroom is to put you behind a solid wall, without a place to put your feet.

Their idea of customer service on an 9.5 hour flight (including the 1.5 hrs spent waiting for the plane to take off) was 2 small glasses of water, and a particularly bad meal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Every time I fly I put my phone in airplane mode and leave it on despite what the morons try to tell me. I have also taken off and landed with my headphones still on and my seat in the reclined and relaxed position and I am still here to tell the story despite there warnings that you will cause the plane to fall out of the sky.
I don’t really care what the FAA/FCC has to say about it, the fact is there is absolutely no reason why you can have your smaller electronic devices on when your in the air but not during takeoff/landing. That said, I can understand not allowing a laptop or DVD player, if something did go wrong that would be a heavy flying object unlike a small MP3 player, Smartphone or lightweight Tablet.

sniperdoc (profile) says:

Re: I don't really care what the FAA/FCC has to say...

It’s douchebags like this that should be castrated. Such a sense of entitlement. If people behave like this they should be booted from flying for several years and see how much they pay attention then.

The reason you don’t care is because you are ignorant of the effects your “little device” can have. That’s all. Personally I hope your plane crashes some day and you’re the one arse-hat that actually gets hurt. Then, I hope they trace the incident to your “little device” and you get sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> That said, I can understand not allowing a
> laptop or DVD player, if something did go
> wrong that would be a heavy flying object
> unlike a small MP3 player, Smartphone or
> lightweight Tablet.

And yet, they’ll let you hold a big ol’ hardcover book during takeoff and landing, which would just as dangerous if it flew about the cabin.

It’s some kind of bizarre technophobic panic over new things that results in just this kind of bizarre anti-logic.

Anonymous Coward says:

i think the biggest problem with mobile phones etc is allowing the pilots to have them in the cockpits with them. i remember reading where a plane had to abort a landing because the pilot had failed to drop the landing gear because he was texting on his mobile. wont get much more dangerous than that, will you?

Dave says:

distraction

As a pilot, I know there are MANY reasons the devices are banned from use during takeoffs and landings. Passenger distraction is the #1 reason, then safety. Passengers need to listen and be aware of what is going on around them. They also need to hear emergency announcements and instructions from the pilot and crew. You can do without your toys for the first ten minutes of the flight and the last ten minutes. These objects are also a serious danger, no matter how small, if they are flying around the cabin. You’ve all seen video of people getting launched out of their seats and getting slammed into the cabin ceiling then back to the floor. Small objects can seriously injure someone. I’m sick and tired of the me me me attitude people have these days. You do not have a right to do whatever you want wherever you want. There are still rules and laws in the world. Grow up and think about the overall picture not just your momentary selfish needs. That third star on Angry Birds can wait.

sniperdoc (profile) says:

Re: distraction

BRA-FRIGGIN-VO! Finally someone hit the nail on the head! If someone tells you to DO something, especially when it is only a PRIVILEGE, you do it. It’s not a RIGHT to fly a plane. It is a luxury and privilege just like driving. Such a sense of entitlement nowadays…

Not only is it because of the distraction, cellular signals can also cause speakers on headsets to cause interference. Ever been on a regular land-line and have your cell go looking for a tower/signal? That’s what pilots can hear if everyone’s got their phone on in the plane. They could miss crucial routing information on the tarmack, which could actually cost you your life.

So, because 9 out of 10 folks have no idea how to put a phone into “Airplane mode” or a need to have email on their phone, they blanket statement it and have everyone turn their devices off.

When I see jerks that continue listening to their iPod or play games on their phone during take-off and landing it makes me want to smash their skulls into the ground for being such douchebags. Really? You can’t wait the 10 – 20 minutes and disconnect for a second and pay attention?? Not only are you being disrespectful to the crew, but you’re being a douche to everyone else around you that IS obeying the LAW.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: distraction

While I agree with most of your points, if you’re a regular air traveler it reaches the point where you can repeat the safety video verbatim as it plays. I no longer need to hang off of every word to know what to do.

After I reached that point myself (50+ flights in less than a year), I now continue to listen to music on my iPod (and yes, my iPod is in airplane mode… all the time actually, it greatly extends the battery life).

Having said that, I make sure to be buckled in with all loose objects secured, seat in proper position, my ipod volume level is low enough that I can hear cabin communication, etc etc. I would not trust most people’s judgements though.

Charles (profile) says:

Re: Re: distraction

> BRA-FRIGGIN-VO! Finally someone hit the nail on the head!
> If someone tells you to DO something, especially when it is
> only a PRIVILEGE, you do it. It’s not a RIGHT to fly a
> plane. It is a luxury and privilege just like driving. Such
> a sense of entitlement nowadays…

Wrong… while it is true government petty-tyrant-wanna-be’s willl tell you that ‘driving is a privilege’, the courts have consistently ruled the opposite… traveling, including by horse or whatever is the current/popular mode of travel at the time (and yes, decisions have specifically included automobiles), is a RIGHT, NOT a privilege.

Same goes for flying.

Please stop being such a sheeple, peeple…

sniperdoc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: distraction

Show me the precedent in regards to flying please. I concede that according to the US Judicial system that for ungodly reason they assume that it is a right to be able to drive. But, when you don’t follow the rules, you have that right revoked. So, we’re back to square one, break the rules on a plane, i.e. you have your privilege of flying revoked.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: distraction

> traveling, including by horse or whatever
> is the current/popular mode of travel
> at the time (and yes, decisions have
> specifically included automobiles), is
> a RIGHT, NOT a privilege. Same goes for
> flying.

The difference is that the car is generally yours. The plane is not.

You don’t have a right to drive in *my* car, nor do you have a right to fly in someone else’s plane. If you do, you have to abide by their rules.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: distraction

No offense, man, but finding some way to amuse myself while I sit on the tarmac for 3 hours waiting for a 2 hour flight is not really all that selfish. Playing angry birds quietly in my seat while I desperately try to ignore the crying babies and the a-hole kicking the back of my chair for 3 hours is not really all that selfish.

Selfish is making me get to the airport 2 hours early so that I can sit on the tarmac for 3 hours before a 2 hour flight.

Selfish is not returning to the gate to let people eat/drink/stretch/bathroom when you know you’re going to be sitting on the tarmac for 3 hours.

Given the constant barrage of ignorant and useless shit that modern air travelers are subjected to, I find it rather selfish that me watching a movie on my phone is what you think is wrong with the system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: distraction

I own a rather nice car in fact, and I use it whenever possible. I have learned not to fly unless it is absolutely necessary; and every time I do, they manage to find some way of moving the bar for what will next be considered absolutely necessary. In 40+ years of flying, it has only ever gotten worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 distraction

I do nor know about getting worse but different for sure.

At least now the wings do not flap like a bird.
The wings on a DC-3 would flap up and down 3 to 4 foot.
Nor, do the engines make the exhaust noise that the DC-3 did.

On the other hand I miss just driving up to the plane in the car and boarding much as you can still do at county airports today. Then again it did take 2 days to cross the country (west to east).

Fin says:

Re: distraction

You seem to forget that we passangers pay your salary, services are all about me me me and what you have said shows you clearly don’t understand business.

The issue is how over the top the rules are. No matter how much you moan no one will respect them until they are less insulting to the average persons intelligence.

Dave says:

Re: Re: distraction

The bottom line is once you board my aircraft I am in charge and have the final say. I will go by whatever the FAA guidelines are. So until you get the laws changed, sit down and follow directions. If you cannot do this then I suggest you drive or find another way to your destination. Everyone has choices.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: distraction

The bottom line is once you enter my McDonalds I am in charge and have the final say. I will go by whatever the FDA guidelines are. So until you get the laws changed, sit down and follow directions. If you cannot do this then I suggest you cook or find another way to your sustenance. Everyone has choices.

See how stupid that sounds now?

sniperdoc (profile) says:

Re: Re: distraction

You forget your boss at your job pays your salary. You break your boss’ rules, you lose your job right? It’s not up to you to decide what rule is right and wrong. Would be hella convenient wouldn’t it… I’ll just decide to stop paying taxes. I’m supposed to pay… but hell. I’ll just stop doing that. I’ll just start driving 120mph on the highway… no problem right? No one gets hurt by it? They Autobahn in Germany has unrestricted speed limits for the most parts (barring near cities). Dumb rule… I just won’t follow it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: distraction

It’s absolutely hilarious that you would bring up speeding in this context. I couldn’t help but notice you had to use an incredibly hyperbolic speed to make it sound silly when in realty everyone exceeds the speed limits for exactly the reasons that were stated. Then you pile on even more hilarity by suggesting it obviously hurts people followed by immediately providing a real life example of how innocuous it really is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: distraction

I’ve seen videos of drunk and retarded pilots. Pilots who drink and act retarded can seriously injure everyone on the plane.

Before you start railing against the people who pay to have you cart them around, please look into your colleagues who act like jackasses and endanger more people than my MP3 player.

Jeremy says:

Re: distraction

So, do attendants tell kids to put away all their non-electronic toys before takeoff? Do they tell older people to put away their hardback books? Do they ask people to stop reading? Do they tell hard-of-hearing people to remain awake?

All of those things fit the situations you’re talking about. Hardbound books can become projectiles in the cabin and hurt someone during a rough landing/takeoff, same with kids toys. Reading during takeoff and landing is a distraction. Deaf people are only aware of problems if they keep their eyes open. All of these things are true, but only electronics are banned. Your points are invalid.

JMT says:

Re: distraction

“These objects are also a serious danger, no matter how small, if they are flying around the cabin.”

True, and the same applies to every other thing not bolted down (much of which is supplied by the airline), and yet you want to apply the rule just to electronic devices. That makes no sense.

“There are still rules and laws in the world.”

And when rules and laws are based on proven lies (“your electronic device will cause the plane to crash!”), respect for those rules and laws disappears. If you want people to follow them, tell the truth. Don’t make up plausible but flawed reasons.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: distraction

Passenger distraction is the #1 reason, then safety. Passengers need to listen and be aware of what is going on around them. They also need to hear emergency announcements and instructions from the pilot and crew.

If that were true then sleeping would be banned. But it’s not. Also people are free to read a book.

These objects are also a serious danger, no matter how small, if they are flying around the cabin. You’ve all seen video of people getting launched out of their seats and getting slammed into the cabin ceiling then back to the floor. Small objects can seriously injure someone.

And yet equally (perhaps more) dangerous books and other toys are allowed. As are all the things in the plane galley which can fly around.

Sorry, but your explanation doesn’t pass the reality test.

I’m sick and tired of the me me me attitude people have these days. You do not have a right to do whatever you want wherever you want. There are still rules and laws in the world. Grow up and think about the overall picture not just your momentary selfish needs. That third star on Angry Birds can wait.

I’m sick and tired of the “respect my authoritah!” attitude people have these days. Just because there are rules it does not mean they are right or make sense. Your ego can settle down.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: distraction

“respect my authoritah!”

If you don’t respect their authoritah, who will? How will they keep control of their sad little fiefdoms? Without those, they’ll have to go home and beat their wives (or husbands, I’ll be equal opportunity here) to feel like a big person. By submitting, you’re keeping domestic abuse down.

Are you saying you are in favor of domestic abuse?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: distraction

> These objects are also a serious danger, no
> matter how small, if they are flying around
> the cabin. You’ve all seen video of people
> getting launched out of their seats and getting
> slammed into the cabin ceiling then back to
> the floor. Small objects can seriously injure
> someone. I’m sick and tired of the me me me
> attitude people have these days

Then make the rules make sense.

Don’t tell me I can’t have my iPad in my lap because it could be dangerous, but let the guy next to me read his hardcover book the entire time.

All that tells me is that either the rule is nonsense or you don’t know how to enforce it properly, and either way it doesn’t motivate me to take you seriously.

Mark says:

Re: distraction

You are absolutely right. I am not a pilot but have been thru private pilot ground school and had a student license. Take off and landing are the most critical phases of any flight and someone’s “me me me” attitude puts everyone’s life at risk. In my opinion, passengers should have to surrender all electronic devices with battery/batteries removed at boarding.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: distraction

> In my opinion, passengers should have to
> surrender all electronic devices with
> battery/batteries removed at boarding.

That’s gonna really help dad with listening to the safety briefing if his hearing aid is surrendered.

And I’m not sure how grandma’s gonna be able to surrender that pacemaker and still, you know, live.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: distraction

” I’m sick and tired of the me me me attitude people have these days. You do not have a right to do whatever you want wherever you want. There are still rules and laws in the world. Grow up and think about the overall picture not just your momentary selfish needs. That third star on Angry Birds can wait.”

It’s ironic every time someone complains about selfishness in rants that are inherently self-serving. It really wasn’t necessary to ruin an otherwise excellent post with this was it?

Jeremy says:

Using RF-disabled or RF-quiescent electronics cannot interfere with an airliner’s electronic systems. There is no evidence of any such activity EVER affecting a planes systems. The rule against electronic equipment during takeoff/landing is stupid and should be abolished. I will concede that an active RF transmitter *MIGHT* cause a problem to navigation systems, but even that would likely be a rare occurrence if people were allowed radio equipment in airliners.

If anyone disagrees with my statement, please provide evidence, in any form, of any airliner incident in which it was even suspected that electronic interference from inside the plane caused a problem.

There is no such evidence.

Jeremy says:

Re: Re: Re:

So, do attendants tell kids to put away all their non-electronic toys before takeoff? Do they tell older people to put away their hardback books? Do they ask people to stop reading? Do they tell hard-of-hearing people to remain awake?

All of those things fit the situations you’re talking about. Hardbound books can become projectiles in the cabin and hurt someone during a rough landing/takeoff, same with kids toys. Reading during takeoff and landing is a distraction. Deaf people are only aware of problems if they keep their eyes open. All of these things are true, but only electronics are banned. Your points are invalid.

Jeremy says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As an aside, the last few times I flew (Last week), I had my kindle out during takeoff. Without fail, the attendants asked me to “turn off” my kindle touch. My kindle touch is a PASSIVE display that uses no power whatsoever to keep text on the screen. Turning it “off” actually uses more power than simply reading a page. On at least two of my flights last week, the guy next to me was reading a paper book, and she said nothing to the guy.

If it’s about distraction, then why the hell does the guy next to me get to read his non-electronic book when I’m asked to turn something “off” that essentially is never “on” ?? The answer is it isn’t about distraction. If it were about distraction the safety briefing would ask passengers to remain aware and alert during takeoff and landing, to keep the window shades up, etc… They don’t ask this (though I do recall them asking to keep the shades up during taxiing before, but not lately).

AdamF (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Correct, there is no evidence that RF-disabled electronic device ever brought down a plane. However, FAA is required to individually test every single electronic device before it permits it to operate during take-off and landing. This testing is very expensive and paid for by the manufacturer. So I suggest that you lobby Samsung and Apple to certify their devices.

egghead (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The testing is expensive because they require an actual flight with a single uncertified device before it passes. Why exactly is this a requirement? Does the FAA not have intelligent enough people to create a simulator that will allow them to test these devices? More to the point, why not certify the planes against the limited spectrum of RF that these devices use and then certify that the devices stay within those bounds, possibly even going back and certifying the crafts against a broader spectrum. Hell, even the planes sitting on the tarmac are being bombarded by all those radio waves even when no devices are present. I highly doubt that the airports have some way of blocking all electromagnetic waves from entering their airspace.

Jeremy says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’ll tell you why they do this. They do this because in the pre-GPS days, planes needed a method to land in low-visibility situations. In order to land in a low-visibility situation without GPS, you need undisturbed radio reception on certain frequencies to line up your plane into a proper approach vector for your plane for landing. IIRC these were initially very analog RF signals that planes used. It is quite understandable how an RF transmitter carelessly left on during a full-instrument-landing could cause a problem. However, these days we have GPS which is more accurate by orders of magnitude than those old instrument landing systems.

In theory, the only way RF inside the average commercial airliner could bring cause a crash is if GPS were disabled, the landing strip were fogged in, and you were using the same frequency as those old landing approach systems. Outside of that, the pilots human eyeballs can substitute very well for landing.

Keep in mind that regardless of whatever happens to the planes electronic systems, the Jet engines are impervious to ALL RF. You’ll always have thrust and flight surface control, so you can always just land using your brain.

Anonymous Coward says:

If my wee little ipod can interfere with my plane’s electronics, does it not logically follow that another plane’s electronics could do the same thing? Every time I’m in a plane on the ground we are surrounded by many other planes all around us and in the sky above us. That must be an extreme danger.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Don’t waste your time. They’ll yell ‘DISTRACTIONS!!1!!ONE!!!!’. You’ll come back with something about a hardcover book or magazine or screaming baby. They’ll shut up and move on to the next person who says something about interference. At best you’ll get the retarded pilot (who I hope never flies any plane I’m on) yelling that he’s the boss because he has wings, and he doesn’t care who pays his salary. If no customers show up he’s still gonna fly so he can be the boss!

sniperdoc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Pretty much shows how well you adjusted to authority eh? When a ruling doesn’t fit into your guideline of what is right vs wrong its fine to ignore right?

Might as well start pirating software right? It’s against the law, but you’re not hurting anyone, right? But you see how it’s affecting the music/software/game industry. They’re locking things down even further.

Quit trying to be smarter than the system and follow the damn rules. Once you’re in a position of authority to make the judgement call to remove the rules, then be my guest. Or for that matter, start a petition to the FAA about relaxing the rules and do a smart write-up as you sound like you’re smart guy.

But, as far as your respect towards the flight rules concerned, I hope the Air Marshall stun guns your butt the next time you don’t follow the rules and you get thrown out of the plane for not following them. Maybe with the new laws in effect they might just throw you into a Detention Camp without a warrant or phone call to your lawyer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You know what? I’ve thought it over. I stand by my previous statement asking you to stop posting. By your own rules that should be enough to shut you up. However, I will respond point by point just to show what a nice guy I can be.

Pretty much shows how well you adjusted to authority eh? When a ruling doesn’t fit into your guideline of what is right vs wrong its fine to ignore right?

Thoreau said “Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.” Authority doesn’t make someone right and just. Just because someone is in charge and making rules does not give them some mandate of heaven. Many times it just leads to them making up arbitrary rules to show that they are, indeed, the boss. It is even sneakier when old rules are still enforced that should no longer apply.

Might as well start pirating software right? It’s against the law, but you’re not hurting anyone, right? But you see how it’s affecting the music/software/game industry. They’re locking things down even further.

Actually, most places are opening up DRM. iTunes is DRM-free and so is Amazon for their MP3s and have been for a while. I don’t know how in the hell you have decided that reading a book on a device that is not broadcasting is equivalent to copyright infringement and honestly I can live the rest of my life without knowing where to board that particular train of thought.

Quit trying to be smarter than the system and follow the damn rules. Once you’re in a position of authority to make the judgement call to remove the rules, then be my guest. Or for that matter, start a petition to the FAA about relaxing the rules and do a smart write-up as you sound like you’re smart guy.

I will not follow rules that make no sense. I have no respect for rules that cannot be explained. “Because I said so” is not a good reason, ever. However, even if I disagree with a well reasoned argument I will listen to it and try to change it. Anything less than a well reasoned argument for a rule is just tyranny, no matter how small and pathetic the tyrant’s kingdom is.

But, as far as your respect towards the flight rules concerned, I hope the Air Marshall stun guns your butt the next time you don’t follow the rules and you get thrown out of the plane for not following them. Maybe with the new laws in effect they might just throw you into a Detention Camp without a warrant or phone call to your lawyer.

Really? You hope someone will do physical harm to me because I want to read or listen to music on a device that is less of a projectile danger than a hardback book, and is broadcasting just as much? You advocate indefinite detention without trial for U.S. citizens? That says something for how you feel about authority. I am a citizen of the United States. No king rules me. No religious figure tells me how I will live my daily life. I will applaud the rules that make sense (don’t go around hurting or killing people who aren’t trying to hurt or kill you first!) and I will actively work to change the rules that I don’t believe make sense. I will not, however, blindly submit to authority, no matter how big or small they might be, just because they are the ones in charge. I will be a rational, thinking, caring, open minded person. I will not expect others to agree with me “because I said so”, just as I will not agree with others “because they said so”.

It is my sincerest hope that no one ever comes after you with a stun-gun over the mildest form of disobedience. I hope you are never pepper sprayed for disagreeing with authority. I hope you are never beaten within an inch of your life because you hold an opinion contrary to the rule-makers and rule-enforcers. However, if all you can add is “You were told to do it, so sit down and shut up” then please know that I have heard you and have disregarded what you have to say in its entirety. Everything else that you say along those lines will be treated like the dreck that it is.

Dave says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The FAA says I’m the boss. If you don’t like that then stay in your car and drive past the airport exit and keep going to your destination. No one forces you to buy a ticket and obey the laws that come with it. Someone else WILL take your seat and I will still have a flight to make.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

And jackasses with authority complexes are making them really want to spend their extra money on that rather than other things. The entertainment industry is making record profits. Surely some of this disposable income could go towards flying if it weren’t such a horrible experience, right?

No, it must be the recession. It couldn’t possibly be arbitrary rules and morons with a little dick complex causing people to spend their money elsewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Not all tablets, e-readers and phones are iPads. Just because you have one consumer electronic get certified, doesn’t mean you can then argue that all devices are acceptable. If they also allow exceptions for 1 (or more) device(s), you then add a huge burden on the flight crew to ensure that device you are using is in fact certified. It’s easier to have a blanket ban. Are you really unable to put down your Angry Bird game for the short period of time the devices need to be off during the takeoff/landing?

Jeremy says:

So, I will sum up this thread:

Authority Figure: “Do this because if you don’t, bad things can happen”
Citizens: “Uh, there’s no evidence that bad things have ever happened as a result.”
Authority Figure: “Do this because it’s a personal safety issue if you don’t”
Citizens: “That safety issue already existed because there are no rules for non-electronics.”
Authority Figure: “Do this because I said so.”
Citizens: “Frack you.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do this because it’s a regulation.
If you don’t like the regulation, get it changed rather then act as a self entitled brat who thinks they know better on the basis or hearsay and anecdotal evidence.

Some people dislike wearing seatbelts in cars. If you don’t do it, you’ll still get fined no matter how much you argue that you didn’t wear it all year and didn’t get injured once.

Jeremy says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s actual evidence that seat belts in automobiles save lives. There’s no evidence whatsoever that a computer, pda, e-reader, etc… in RF-off-mode can affect the normal function of an airliner.

It’s the difference between being told there’s a regulation that says, “Don’t do what you want to do because here’s the evidence of the benefit,” and, “Don’t do what you want to do because, well, we said so.”

Ethically made laws and regulations are not made in a vacuum, you need solid empirical evidence of a need to situationally constrain human behavior or you’re no better than a dictator. This is why the original bill of rights only constrains what laws congress may make, not what U.S. citizens can do.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I turn off and stow everything except my NEWSPAPER during T.O. and landing when I fly (oh noooos .. not required to stow, and OMG a paper cut). I get annoyed when all the (redacted) get up and grab their overhead bundles at touch down, and generally ignore the attendants.

I follow the rules scrupulously. The rules are based on worse evidence than provided by those who oppose them.

How can “We the people” change these rules? “We the people” are not allowed to vote on regulations.

Please tell me how I could get this stupidity changed. Please …(times 3)

Please also stop using the word “brat” for people who disagree with you. I’m not sure if it makes you sound more like a fascist, or just stupid when talking about air travelers, of which the vast majority are adults. Yes some adults are brats, but most people rejecting the TSA mindset and standards are thinking adults.

I’m guessing you don’t do much thinking. See … ad-homs are easy.

Car seat belts are a really bad argument as

1) those are state laws (constitution much?)
2) Lots of US citizens oppose those laws.

sniperdoc (profile) says:

Right vs Wrong

Amazing the comments I see. Pretty much just selfishness going on.

You know, as an IT guy I don’t agree with the rules either. They don’t make sense, the IRS, DHS and TSA doesn’t make sense. But, you know what… I follow the rules anyways. Do you know why? Because it is out of respect to others who follow the rules.

Personally, the flight attendants have to deal with enough dirtbags and senses of entitlement all day, that I really don’t care to make their day any worse.

For those talking about the whole business aspect, that I don’t know how it works. Cool… stop flying then. Drive. Don’t take a ship to other countries either, because you probably won’t follow the in-cruise emergency muster briefing’s anyways. So, drive/swim your happy ass to wherever you want to go. Other people will continue to fly/cruise, and will continue to observe these “obsolete” rules.

Just because you fly 50+ times a year doesn’t give you any seniority privilege of being able to ignore rules. Become a pilot and fly your own plane if you want that. You’re no better than anyone else on the plane that just wants a peaceful flight experience and a flight attendant that’s in a good mood. Because if the attendant has to deal with someone that’s not willing to follow the rules, guess what… s/he’s not going to be in a good mood.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Right vs Wrong

“They don’t make sense, the IRS, DHS and TSA doesn’t make sense. But, you know what… I follow the rules anyways.”

Same here. I still follow the rules, even though they may seem injust and rather arbitrary.

But does that mean I can’t talk about it?

Does that mean that we can’t have a discussion about it?

If we all just shut up and did nothing about any of the rules that don’t make sense, nothing would ever get changed, in fact the rules would become even weirder/stricter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Right vs Wrong

I’m just highlighting the stupidity that was sniperdoc’s statement.

It won’t help. Once someone realizes they’re stupid they do one of two things. They post louder, more insulting arguments thinking that makes them look like they know what they’re talking about (the little dick complex) or they run away without admitting they were made to look like a jackass.

You can lead a person to the well of knowledge but you can’t make them think.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Right vs Wrong

“Amazing the comments I see. Pretty much just selfishness going on.”

I know! It’s incredible! People are being told to sit on the back of the bus, and they won’t do it! What kind of entitled world we live in, where people that get told to sit on the back of the bus are disobedient little brats and instead sit on the front of the bus.

If you don’t want to sit on the back of the bus, change the laws that say that you have to sit on the back of the bus! Don’t just go and sit on the front on the bus all defiant-like! We’re the bosses over here! I hope the next time you refuse to sit on the back of the bus, Pepper Spray cop empties his entire canister of pepper spray down your throat, and that you get sent to Gitmo, while a dozen crack dealers burn your testicles (or other genitalia) with their crack pipes, while Mr. Pilot Dave shoots you with his taser gun and vultures remove your eyes from your sockets!

If you don’t go and sit on the back of the bus right now, I’m going to not be in such a good mood. It’s very important that I’m in a good mood, okay? Respect my authoritah!

anon says:

Occupy Airplanes

We need some civil disobedience to change things.

Let’s pick a day – May Day would have been a good choice in hindsight – that we the people can designate FAA Electronic Testing Day.

On that day as many people as possible will keep all their electronics on for the entire duration of each flight they are on. No airplane mode silliness.

We will then tally up all the airline crashes for that day and begin the investigation from there.

Anonymous Coward says:

It may be silly, but it’s a law (regulation?).

Some people find wearing seatbelts silly.
Some people think some of the drug prohibitions are silly.
Some people find the music/movie/game piracy silly.

Bottom line, if you think it’s silly, get the law changed so it’s not silly. Otherwise, stop being a person who thinks they know better and are above the law. That’s the same sort of self entitlement attitude that is annoying on so many other levels.

Sure you saw a person use a phone and the plane didn’t crash. I’m sure you also had first hand knowledge of everything that happened in the cockpit. Maybe the shielding or signal error correction filtered out any of the electromagnetic radiation coming out of that 1 device. What happens when everyone on board all have devices running? What if a normal operating device is fine, but one that had a component fail and release some unexpected signals on a different frequency? How do you know that the device that is on is working within normal parameters? How about the fact you should be paying attention to the safety instruction given by the crew, rather then trying to get your new high score on Angry Birds.

I’m assuming the FCC, FAA, or any of the other alphabet agencies would have performed some actual scientific study on the effects. Perhaps not, but rather then just ignoring them on the basis that you think you know more then them, maybe you should present an argument with non anecdotal evidence, preferably a creditable scientific study, that proves their concerns are unfounded and they should consider allowing electronic devices to be operated during takeoff/landings.

anon says:

Re: Re:

You speak as if trial and error is not a valid scientific method.

How many trials have been conducted by people keeping devices on and using them on how many flights over the last year?

Millions would seem to be a conservative estimate.

Number of planes brought down by electronics? Zero.

If that’s not a thorough scientific study with conclusive results I don’t know what is.

anon says:

Re: Re:

You speak as if trial and error is not a valid scientific method.

How many trials have been conducted by people keeping devices on and using them on how many flights over the last year?

Millions would seem to be a conservative estimate.

Number of planes brought down by electronics? Zero.

If that’s not a thorough scientific study with conclusive results I don’t know what is.

Dave Evartt says:

Seriously?

I wonder why no terrorist has been able to bring a plane down using a cell phone or any other electronic device they could carry on their person. It seems like a no brainer to me. You don’t even have to be on the plane, just turn your cell phone on, attached to a battery and ship it air mail.

The answer lies not in interference to the aircraft, but disruption of the cell phone infrastructure by high altitude cell phones being able to hit hundreds of towers at the same time and the infrastructure was not designed to handle the massive overload that would cause almost every cell tower to be active at the same time.

They could solve the problem by telling us the truth instead of a blatant lie, thinking nobody knows the difference.

Maybe someone should challenge the law by using their phone and claiming an attempt to bring the plane down. At the trial, just challenge the science behind the law.

trenchman says:

Not sure...

I haven’t done any research on plane interference from cell phones myself so I can’t say. But I did see an episode of MythBusters where they tested this myth. There was a certain frequency used by some newer phones that did seem to have an affect on plane equipment. I know that show isn’t exactly the most trust worthy, especially since I’ve been watching it for years, but I’m just curious how much of an affect phone could actually have on plane instruments, and if it could enough of one to affect the plane, I have problem shutting my phone off.

Camera however, i don’t get, unless of course it’s on your phone.

Paul Alan Levy (profile) says:

Why the law is the way it is

An old friend of mine, indeed he is a former colleague here at Public Citizen, who used to represent consumers in tiffs with airlines and with the FAA and the old Civil Aeronautics Board, had this realpolitik comment about the politics at play here:

“Understand one thing about the FAA: If they repeal the current rule, and a plane crashes, there will be hell to pay. If they leave it on the books, the only downside will be complaints from a relatively small number of passengers who dislike the inconvenience of turning off their laptops or smartphones for 10 minutes. I?m sure you can guess how that choice will be resolved by an agency.”

tennised (profile) says:

Apart from the ‘supposed’ potential for signal interference from mobile phones etc., why did the FAA ASSUME an electronic device was in use during takeoff? The YouTube posting does not indicate what device was used to capture the video. It could very well have been a digital camera. Most recent models include video capture capability. And, it is my understanding, a digital camera is not considered an ‘electronic device’ for FAA purposes as it neither sends nor receives electronic signals (other than lightwave reception, of course).

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