Home » Questions » Computers [ Ask a new question ]

What do cell phones/cell network devices potentially interfere with on airplanes? [closed]

What do cell phones/cell network devices potentially interfere with on airplanes? [closed]

There seems to be a lot of debate behind the cell phone usage ban on airplanes. A lot of cell phones now have airplane modes so we can enjoy out electronic devices in peace while aboard commercial aircraft. We keep hearing how cell phone communication could interfere with the aircraft instruments and devices. The ban was put into place in 1991 and was almost lifted in 2007, but was upheld by the FCC. I am curious what devices technically do they interfere with? What exact instruments do cell phones radio frequencies potentially interfere with? What on an aircraft uses similar radio frequencies? Or is it all just a general concern since there is a lot of electronic communication that needs to take place for an aircraft to operate safely?

Asked by: Guest | Views: 66
Total answers/comments: 4
Guest [Entry]

"Basically cell phones generate a lot of electromagnetic noise. When a conductor is in a changing magnetic (or electormagnetic) field a current will be induced. That's the basic reason why cell phones can interfere with instruments, basically with everything that involves signals passed over wires.

Nowadays most wires and instruments are properly shielded (as cell phones are not the only source of electromagnetic stuff and it's better to take precautions before anything goes wrong.

That's probably also why the ban is still in place, as it is better to be safe than sorry. The Mythbusters once ran a few tests and concluded that cell phones can and will interfere with certain instruments in an airplane, though they couldn't reproduce it with a recently-built aircraft. But risking one case where instruments are not properly shielded and an aircraft goes down is probably worse than simply banning all cell phones.

Similar reasons go for medical equipment in hospitals."
Guest [Entry]

"I'd say cell phones cause almost no interference. After all, do you think everyone remembers to turn off their phones before take off? It's not like the airlines have a way to check.

The fact that most passengers can't be bothered to put their seats upright tells me that there are plenty who don't turn off their phone as well. And since airplanes haven't been falling from the sky, I'd say interference is nil.

The real reason is because it would be too disruptive for other passengers to have all kinds of people yakking in their phones."
Guest [Entry]

"It isn't due to interference with one instrument, it is that each and every phone can be different and they are not thoroughly tested.

It can be any and all devices if the cables used throughout the plane are not properly EM shielded.

That being said, the main reason for this is just existing laws and there are a few airlines who are starting to allow passengers to use their phone in air (for a much higher price!)."
Guest [Entry]

"Cell phones won't interfere with the plane's instrumentation. The main reason they aren't allowed is because the cell phone carriers don't like to deal with all the small charges generated by the phones switching cells as they fly over them.

It's just another silly government regulation that defies logic."