Time To Challenge Airline Paranoia On Wireless

from the second-that dept

We've discussed this issue on Techdirt a few times in the past, but here's Guy Kewney taking a stand on something I believe in as well: it's time that the airlines (or regulatory officials) explain to us what exactly is the problem with using wireless devices on a plane. Right now, the best we can get is that there "could be" a problem - but no one seems to have answers to what those problems might be. At the same time, there has yet to be one recorded incident of problems with mobile phones or WiFi devices being used on airplanes. Kewney points out that on almost every flight he's been on lately, at least one mobile phone has started ringing in flight (meaning someone left it on - whether on purpose or not). I was on a flight recently where someone in the seat behind me made three or four phone calls during the flight. I have a friend who routinely leaves his Blackberry device on while on airplanes, so he can check his email. The article says that some pilots even keep their phones on in the cockpit while they're in the air. The other reason (not mentioned in the article) that is often mentioned for banning in-flight phone use is that it messes with carriers' towers - but even that doesn't seem to have much evidence behind it. The only reasonable argument I've heard for banning phones on planes is so that we're not trapped next to someone yakking away for hours on a cross-country flight.
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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2003 @ 6:11am

    Re: a couple of data points...

    You hit on alot of good points with the RF rich environment. I have another.

    Someone has to fund the testing required to prove that all these devices can operate in an environment where consumer electronics are operating. You have to develop test waveforms, document them, get someone to test them to ensure they are valid, "real world" tests, distribute them to equipment manufacturer's and then enforce compliance.

    Aircraft equipment design and specifications move very slowly. With all the documentation and safety checks that go on, equipment makers simply can't respond to the rate of consumer electronics development. It is much easier (and safer) to simply ban electronics on flight unless they have been tested or designed specifically not to interfere with existing aircraft equipment. Unfortunately for the consumer, this means they have to use the phones that are on the plane.

    Just my two cents...

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