During the taking off and landing process, flight attendants ask for everyone to turn their portable devices off. Many people do not follow these requests, and the latest ABC report tells us why we should listen. Between the 2003 and 2009, there were some incidents on board a few flights where people left their phones or portable devices on while flying, which incidentally caused issues for the pilots. The report also says some problems could still occur even if your device has a flight mode setting and it’s activated during the trip.
Now, leaving your phone on during a flight is allowed on some planes, but otherwise if you live in the United States, you could be jailed and fined. The reason for such strict rules is because on a few occasions navigation systems were compromised: flight controls, autopilot, autothrust, landing gear, and electronic warnings were going off. Those were not just normal occurrences, and are just a few of the problems portable devices like phones and tablets that have Wi-Fi support could cause. On one occasion, a plane’s autopilot was unintentionally disengaged at 4,500 feet in the air. Pilots quickly requested the flight attendants to search the cabin for electronic devices, and they discovered that one phone and three iPods were in use. After the devices were finally powered down, the flight did not experience further issues.
Twenty-six of the incidents in the report affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear. Seventeen affected navigation systems, while 15 affected communication systems. Thirteen of the incidents produced electronic warnings, including “engine indications.” The type of personal device most often suspected in the incidents were cell phones, linked to four out of ten.
Stories like this might make us follow the attendant’s request next time, and maybe turn our phones off. Of course this information was gathered over a long period of time and millions of flights went without issues and most likely still had stubborn flyers on board. With that said, I’ll remember this report for awhile, because I really would rather not be the one in a million flight that has a major issue because I wanted to play Angry Bird during takeoff, and I’m sure many of you would rather not either.