inFact: Cell Phones on Airplanes

Is it actually dangerous to use cell phones or other portable electronics on board an aircraft?

Ever since cell phones were invented, flight attendants have warned us that they must be turned off for safety reasons. Really? Compared to the massive, constant blasts of radio from all sources on the planet, is my little cell phone really the only one that an airliner is in danger from?

That’s what a lot of people believe, including a lot of people at the airlines, and a lot of the flight attendants themselves. The fact is it’s not at all true. Aircraft electronics are shielded from all radio sources, including those much more powerful than nearby cell phones. Airbus and Boeing spend millions of dollars on safety, hardening their aircraft against every conceivable danger. If either the aircraft manufacturers or the regulators felt that cell phones might even be a slight risk to flight safety, then you’d be allowed to bring them on board just the same way you bring dynamite on board: Meaning, not at all.

Still need more evidence? A number of airlines are now offering in-flight service for your cell phone. All they had to do is install a micro cell tower on board the plane that’s cleared to work with the cell network. There’s been no need to do anything to protect the aircraft itself or its electronics.

Some think the safety aspect has to do with requiring the passengers to be attentive during the safety briefings, or takeoff and landing phases. Really? They let you read books; they let you take naps; they don’t stop you from doing either one of those. Moreover, they give you magazines, they give you headphones. Some think they don’t want loose phones flying around the cabin. Really? Like the ice they give you, or the books and cans and everything else they let you hold?

The real reason the ban exists has nothing to do with flight safety. Cell phone networks have a small risk of not work properly when a phone accesses them from a high vantage point, and so federal communication regulators prohibit the use of mobile phones from the air. Federal aviation regulators enforce it because of the communication laws.

Now, a lot of people say that phones should be banned because it’s annoying for other passengers. That’s fine, that’s a perfectly valid perspective; but it’s not valid to promote this perspective by making up bad science to claim the phones are a danger to the aircraft.
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19 Responses to inFact: Cell Phones on Airplanes

  1. Crag B says:

    did u enjoy jail brian

  2. hklausen says:

    I'm an electronic engineer. Mobile phones is harmless to humans air plane :-)

  3. 5ime0n • says:

    GSM Buzz occurs when your device uses improperly shielded cables from nearby devices to boost its signal strength. Higher quality cables can often be found with Ferrite, a magnetic substance which provides passive frequency suppression. It is my hope that commercial pilots are using equipment which has higher standards than the shitty speakers sitting on my desk.

  4. Bernard Gill says:

    Great topic; thanks for sharing!

  5. Bobby Galiano says:

    Great video Brian!

  6. Logan Strickland says:

    If cellphones were such a danger on airplanes you think they'd get used instead of bombs. 

  7. Logan Strickland says:

    If cellphones were such a danger on airplanes you think they'd get used instead of bombs. 

  8. Why? Cause im batman. says:

    im watching this vid on a plane right now. 

  9. 313 Springs Later says:

    Cell phones do actually pose some risk as corsair flight 498 crashed due to this which eventually led to the ban of cell phones, not as on a 747 but more with a small plane such as a Navajo as it can interfere With the static instruments (Can not will)

  10. Esters Defoor says:

    I have unlocked my iphone 3G and 3GS with attiphoneunlocking, I also think that attiphoneunlocking is no doubt the best unlocking service on the internet.

  11. cgdaviscg says:

    I don't think there is such a science as radiology or a radiologist. You study in Physics: Electromagnetism, and in Electrical Engineering: Electromagnetic and Antenna Design. And having experience in wireless systems (15 + years) I can say that the guy is pretty much explaining the facts as science understands it.

  12. 313 Springs Later says:

    Yes but you did not study radiology did you plus not ALL company's follow FCC rules since they don't apply to all country's and who determine which devices will not cause any interference with any device *plus I seriously doubt you studied it when you can't spell threat right and have a pointless argument with another youtuber

  13. billfred51 says:

    Yeah, that's it don't question. Dumbass.

  14. subdroid says:

    Now, what about those "You can not bring more than 100ml liquid on planes" regulations?

  15. Oliver Busch says:

    threat, obviously.

  16. Oliver Busch says:

    I studied aerospace engineering. Let me assure you: If such devices actually posed a thread to the aircraft, they would be banned. End of discussion.

  17. Oliver Busch says:

    I never heard any flight attendant say that devices could actually harm the A/C. Besides possible audible interferences for the pilots (which should be reason enough), passengers should not be distracted by anything during the critical phases of take-off and landing. In case you need to be instructed by an attendant, its probably useful not to be wearing earphones or blathering on your mobile.

  18. Oliver Busch says:

    LOL. 😀 What a BS.

  19. 313 Springs Later says:

    Sir I don't believe you are a radiologist or an aircraft saftey engineer or expert so don't question if it interferes or not