Could your mobile device really bring down the plane?

By Emil · 45 replies
Jun 13, 2011
Post New Reply
  1. Most airline passengers have doubts that their electronic device(s) can impact the functioning of the plane they are on. Many frequent fliers simply ignore the warnings, but the majority adheres…

    Read the whole story
  2. So if it can take down a plane then why hasn't my car had problems with me using my phone. I tell you some people in this world are pathetically stupid i mean if a phone can cause problems to a plane then the technology in that plane must be freaking out of this world as i have never heard of phone signals to somehow mess with onboard chips ect
  3. brianmsu

    brianmsu TS Enthusiast Posts: 27

    didn't myth busters disprove this??? :p
  4. Can't use your phone so they can charge you the over priced rate!
  5. I believe Mythbusters showed that the phones shouldn't interfere at all with the controls, but that the real risk was the battery of the phone heating up and casuing a fire because the phone would be using the battery much more intensely while searching for a signal due to not being near enough to any cell phone towers. They also cited several incidents where phones left on and stored in luggage both in the cargo area and the passenger cabin did indeed cause fires due to battery overheating issues.
  6. Cota

    Cota TS Enthusiast Posts: 513   +8

    Well they did, but in a new generation private jet, now commercial aircraft's... that's another story, how many times we had seen crash reports that point to bad maintenance, are we sure all the wiring is shielded from radio signals?, theres no way to know if all the kilometers of cable in the plane is protected from it but the real deal here is if we risk it, besides they only ask you to turn them off while the plane takes off oi lands.
  7. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,719   +860

    You guys really think Mythbuster episodes are gospel, eh? That's pretty funny.... :p
  8. I watched the report on abc news. It said the phones could disable the auto pilot and other electronics. That is why i don't fly; i will drive if i need to go somewhere. The pilots need to know how to fly without all the gadgets then maybe i will start flying again. Until the Pilots relearn how to fly plains i will keep my but on the ground.
  9. Jesse

    Jesse TS Evangelist Posts: 358   +42

    Typically a lot better than anecdotal conjecture.
  10. @TomSEA: You say "eh", that's pretty funny.
  11. mario

    mario Ex-TS Developer Posts: 399   +17

    I really don't care about using my mobile devices that much in the air, I've heard/read using cellphones is discouraged because it might make flying a really awful(er?) experience if it were a 100 people using their phones.

    What I would really like to know is why do I have to put my seat in an upright position!!?? :p
  12. ibgarrett

    ibgarrett TS Rookie

    As a pilot I am highly skeptical of such an article. They actually make aviation headsets that allow for Bluetooth integration between a cell phone and the pilot's headset. Now granted I only fly General Aviation planes, but ultimately it will NOT bring down a plane. I could MAYBE see it disengaging an auto-pilot under an extreme circumstance. I can also see a phone possibly causing problems with the GPS - but you practically would have to put the phone right up next to the device for it to have any effect.

    Almost all major airlines are looking very closely at the iPad, or have already started their conversion for use in maps and all the other documentation pilots are required to carry on their flights. How do they get the planes to differentiate between the pilots iPad and the passengers? And it's not just iPads, there are many other types of Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) being used that would put off the same kind of EMF.

    I think the key word in this whole article is "anecdotal" - in other words, they haven't a clue.
  13. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,719   +860


    OUTLAWXXX TS Rookie Posts: 51

    I disregard their warnings. Stupid policy put in place by some know-it-all that really didn't have a clue. Plane always lands safely at destination.
  15. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,379   +286

    Honestly doubt it, maybe if the cell acts like a homing beacon for a missile then yeah :p
  16. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,685   +1,085

    Yea I'm gonna call bull too. I'm glad to hear from some pilot(s), but even if you are not and you are just a nerd think about all the other equipment we work with and why won't they be affected.

    Also, IF it really is that big of a concern. Do you think they would still let us take our tech onto plane?

    I can understand 80's cell phones messing something up, maybe...
  17. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    Umm yea, because people driving cars do such a fine job at it you mean?
    Waaay safer to drive a car than go by airplane?
  18. If Cellular phones can take down a plane then why aren't the al Qaeda listed this as their most valuable weapon???
  19. akannitaoheed

    akannitaoheed TS Rookie Posts: 79

    Most or all electronic devices I have seen always come with a label or warning sign saying : designed to receive interference but can't cause any dangerous interference. That is complying with some FCC rules or thereabout. If these devices are claimed to comply with these standards then these claims that they affect flight controls are totally baseless.
  20. giorgiotani

    giorgiotani TS Rookie

    It seems quite difficult to believe, such a grievous vulnerability should have been patched before cellphones left research and development departments!
  21. TechM633

    TechM633 TS Rookie Posts: 33

    Oh the horror. Now because of articles like this, terrorists will start trying to bring down planes with their iphone (now if we could only convince them of

    Next thing you know, TSA will be "screening" (excuse the pun) our phones for threats. I wonder if there will be a no fly list for certain types of phones....or even worse, individual phones. Sounds goofy I know, but look at who we are talking about here.........
  22. Xclusiveitalian

    Xclusiveitalian TS Evangelist Posts: 714   +75

    I heard somewhere that the airlines made up the whole cell phone bid and say it so airline passengers put away there phones and listen to the pilot's message's.... Also I would think if it was true in this day and age in technology they would be able to do something where it automatically engages if a certain "check" or switch isn't activated.
  23. giorgiotani

    giorgiotani TS Rookie

    I would add, it seems very strange that only planes' electronic is affected: I mean, electronics is everywhere now, in any office, kitchen, car, hospital, traffic lights... why just planes should be vulnerable to cellphones while other electronics works fine with them or at most just get some advices of being used with caution with cellphones?

    And if it is true, why not just replace the electronic with different circuitry less prone to such incidents?
    Cellphones are mainstream since '90s, I guess most plane models undergo many revisions in 20+ years and could have been patched.
    And, in 20 years, with nearly anyone having one or more cellphone, I've not ever read of a confirmed serious plane accident due to cellphones, so the chances of serious interferences must be very very low.

    And finally, if such a vulnerability has some serious odd to take down a plane, why terrorists and conventional aerial warfare rely on explosives, missiles, guns etc rather on a scaled up emitter on same frequencies of cellphones?

    All of this sums up the story to be likely a myth, or an extremely exaggerated alarm after a very few not too serious (or dubious) cases.
  24. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 782   +235

    Yet phones don't **** with anything else?

    I call BS.
  25. Phones to interfere with other technologies. For example, my wireless phone in my house can interfere with my wireless signal. My microwave can interfere with my wireless signal. When you have a lot of complex signals in the air why is it so hard to believe the signals can interfere with one and another. Now will a cell phone bring down a plan? No, not very likely considering the human component in place (pilot). I’m just seeing a growing trend of people out here that think that they are above everyone else. Looks it a rule, why fight it? Are you so important that you need to be making phone calls at 30,000 feet? If you are then you should be flying private. In the slim chance that it’s a true safety reason, why must people fight it. Can’t you just accept that it’s a rule and to follow it?

    Is it the need to fight authority? (you need to pick your battles better) Is it the need to feel big and better then the person next to you? (take a course on self esteem) Honestly, no one cares. But if my plane goes down or has an extra bump in the flight just because a certain person has to go and call into work to say, “I’m in the air, will land in 2 hours”. I’m going to be pissed, and then make sure I’m in front of the debarkation line and tie my shoes…both of them.

    Now I feel better.


Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...