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(Ars Technica)   The FAA is starting to fold on using electronic devices during plane takeoffs and landings   (arstechnica.com) divider line 110
    More: Cool, Federal Aviation Administration, NYT, Consumer Electronics Association, Association of Flight Attendants, anonymous source, deputy assistant  
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8256 clicks; posted to Main » on 25 Mar 2013 at 11:20 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-03-25 12:28:33 PM
Looks like Subby picked the wrong day to give up Airplane references...

api.ning.com
 
2013-03-25 12:29:13 PM

Marcus Aurelius: Hack Patooey: Marcus Aurelius: Calmamity: As long as cell phones remain verboten.

Or, conversely, as long as knives remain allowed and the rules are further loosened so I can stab any motherfu*ker on their phone next to me.

Cell phone jammer is your friend.

Out of all the electronic devices I can think of as "harmless" on a plane, something that floods some of the RF spectrum isnt one of those.

If cell phone frequencies could actually harm an aircraft, the things would be falling out of the sky every day.


This.

Is why the ban will probably be lifted by 2014 as per the article's headline (though i didn't read it).  LOL no cell phones during takeoff or landing... as if they realize how much cell phone signal goes through those planes while on the ground or even up to 1000ft.  And don't tell me the whole plane's a Faraday cage cause they let you use phones when the plane is taxiing to the gate after a landing and they work clear as day.  That wouldn't be possible in a Faraday cage.

Ok I read the article while typing this... doesn't change much about my view.  That said I will still comply and switch my cellphone into airplane mode when I fly until this is changed.
 
2013-03-25 12:44:28 PM
My sack of potatoes will be pleased to hear this.
 
2013-03-25 12:51:25 PM

Calmamity: As long as cell phones remain verboten.

Or, conversely, as long as knives remain allowed and the rules are further loosened so I can stab any motherfu*ker on their phone next to me.


Well, there is the slight (documented) problem with a DVD player throwing the navigation system off by 30 degrees, but hey, what's a continent or two between friends.
 
2013-03-25 12:52:28 PM

Marcus Aurelius: In reality, the power output from a cell phone tower dwarfs the power of the handset, and jetliners fly over hundreds of these towers every flight.


True, but there's a little thing called the inverse square law. Power drops off with distance, and the handset is much closer than the towers.
 
2013-03-25 12:53:10 PM

theresnothinglft: Ok I read the article while typing this... doesn't change much about my view. That said I will still comply and switch my cellphone into airplane mode when I fly until this is changed.


I think you'll always be told to switch to airplane mode, the question is should you turn it to airplane mode before takeoff, or do you have to turn it off completely. Leaving a 3G connection running in a plane is horrific for your battery life and for the towers and it will constantly be switching towers at a much faster speed than a car as you fly. You'll also drain battery life looking for a signal. Unless the plane offers a 3G repeater (doubt ever). You should turn it on airplane mode before you takeoff for your own and everyone's good (for the cellphone network's sake, not the planes).
 
2013-03-25 12:53:41 PM

Wellon Dowd: The passengers on Flight 93 knew what was happending on 9-11 because many of them were on cell phones talking to people on the ground.


Yeah, and you see what happened to them.

/too soon?
 
2013-03-25 12:58:56 PM

Ivo Shandor: Marcus Aurelius: In reality, the power output from a cell phone tower dwarfs the power of the handset, and jetliners fly over hundreds of these towers every flight.

True, but there's a little thing called the inverse square law. Power drops off with distance, and the handset is much closer than the towers.


True, but a handset only puts out a few tenths of a watt, while the tower puts out tens of thousands of watts.  An airplane could easily get within a thousand yards of one of these during take-off or landing.

And then there's the lightning strikes I was talking about.
 
2013-03-25 01:00:02 PM

IRQ12: Ivo Shandor: vygramul: I live in constant fear that terrorists will figure out how dangerous cell phones are and stow a bunch that are turned-on in luggage.

Hypothetically, what if there were a 1-in-a-million chance of an active cell phone causing an accident on a flight? It would be useless as a terrorist tool, the vast majority of people who had flown with a phone turned on would report that absolutely nothing happened, but it would still be a serious overall hazard given the total number of flights that people take each year.

Cell phones can interfere with nearby electronics. This is an easily demonstrated fact. Who here hasn't ever heard the characteristic buzzing and popping of a GSM handset next to a speaker phone or audio amplifier? And that's just audio, not even starting to consider the effect on other radio systems which might happen to be on a harmonic of the frequency being transmitted by the phone. Given that many airlines were designed before the cell-phone era, and the wide diversity of bands and modulation schemes used by phones, I have no problem with them taking a safety-first approach and assuming that phones are potentially dangerous until proved otherwise. Airplane accidents are rarely the result of a single factor, so the concern is not that a phone will bring down a plane by itself but that it could glitch some other system at a critical moment. Again hypothetically, what if a phone transmission interfered with a TCAS message from another plane that was already on a collision course?

There is also a theoretical risk from other electronic devices. They all transmit some radio energy as leakage from the digital signals bouncing around inside them. Most radio receivers work by internally generating their own signal and mixing it with the one from the antenna (e.g. if you're listening to 101.1 FM your radio might be internally generating a 111.9 MHz signal) and this local-oscillator signal does leak out. However the levels of the leaked signals are much low ...

If there was any sort of actual threat (beyond the 1:100000000 chance happening)  they wouldn't be allowed on an the airplane, at all.


That was always my thought, and it's more of a cya in case some person DOES have so sort of electronic device rigged to cause problems.

That and I'm on the no fly list for using a Mr. Microphone to prank the stewardesses into thinking the pilot was calling them up front for a handy.
 
2013-03-25 01:05:26 PM

The Irresponsible Captain: Let's see... what is essentially a Faraday cage designed to contain several high-power radios and fly in the upper atmosphere where it is subject to all kinds of radiation we don't see on the ground may be hardened against Joe Bleau's GameBoy.

Shocking.


The radios are not all that powerful. 25w nominal. Most mobile ham operators have a more powerful transmitter in their car; their homes will have up to 1500w amplifiers. Also, RFI considerations are not high priority in the design of aircraft cabins; they sheild the equipment, of course, but not the antennas and such. There is a documented case of a DVD player affecting the nav equipment in an airliner to the tune of 30 degrees off. When switched off the problem went away.

Shocking.

/Ham operator
//100w pep in car :)
///100w pep at home :(
 
2013-03-25 01:12:17 PM

buzzcut73: This. I can't imagine being stuck in a tube with 150 or more other people, half of which are so important and vital to national secuirty/the economy/their company that they have to be in constant contact.


HELLO? WHAT? YES. I'M ON THE PLANE NOW. I SAID I'M ON THE PLANE. NO A PLANE. THAT'S RIGHT, I'M ON IT. NO, I'M ON IT NOW. NO WE HAVEN'T TAKEN OFF. NO I SAID WE'RE BOARDING. BOARDING. IT'S A PRETTY FULL FLIGHT. I SAID IT'S FULL. THE FLIGHT. YEAH, LOTS OF PEOPLE. NO, PEOPLE. I SAID PEOPLE. YEAH. I GUESS. A BUNCH ARE STARING AT ME FOR SOME REASON. WHAT? NO AT ME. THEY'RE STARING. I DON'T KNOW WHY. NO, I DON'T KNOW THEM. NO THEY'RE ON THE PLANE. I SAID THE PLANE. THE PLANE I'M ON....

/Remember, cell phone babblers, you can't see the person you're talking to, so that means you have to shout extra loud because they're very far away.
 
2013-03-25 01:12:39 PM

redmid17: For one thing, he and other industry executives said, standard cabin noise covers up much conversational noise, yet people with cellphones pressed to their ears in that environment somehow do not feel the need to speak louder to compensate.


That's BS. Maybe in some cultures, but in the US? Go to an airport business lounge and listen to the paunchy, middle-aged marketing execs speaking into their phones like they're Titanic-era shipboard speaking tubes... it doesn't take much imagination to figure out what they'd be like on planes. And if you lack that imagination, try a train in the UK.
 
2013-03-25 01:13:35 PM

Wellon Dowd: Slaxl: Isn't the problem with 'cell phones' on flights more that you're several miles away from any signal tower?

The passengers on Flight 93 knew what was happending on 9-11 because many of them were on cell phones talking to people on the ground.


And that plane crashed.  Coinky-dinky? Maybe those turrsts just wanted a tour of the cockpit for show and tell back home?
 
2013-03-25 01:15:26 PM
About time!

The first thing I need to do after wedging myself if that tiny little seat on that overfilled aluminum tube from hell is put on my headphones and pretend I'm somewhere else. It takes every ounce of self control not to punch the flight attendant in the face when they tell me I have to wait for some little light to come on.

Every study I've ever seen done says the rule is BS. And anyway, if by some crazy anti-miracle my little CD player is gonna cripple the plane, shouldn't we find out BEFORE taking off?
 
2013-03-25 01:15:51 PM
What about all the electronic device usage that isn't cell phone calls?

Can I listen to music, read a kindle, play games on my phone, etc.?

Dropping this stupid rule would allow the flight attendants to skip that stupid check where they badger people about whether those earphones are attached to something, and whether that nook is turned off.   Fewer pointless, disregarded rules is always better.
 
2013-03-25 01:17:20 PM

T-Servo: redmid17: For one thing, he and other industry executives said, standard cabin noise covers up much conversational noise, yet people with cellphones pressed to their ears in that environment somehow do not feel the need to speak louder to compensate.

That's BS. Maybe in some cultures, but in the US? Go to an airport business lounge and listen to the paunchy, middle-aged marketing execs speaking into their phones like they're Titanic-era shipboard speaking tubes... it doesn't take much imagination to figure out what they'd be like on planes. And if you lack that imagination, try a train in the UK.


You know Americans fly on international flights too right? I've seen people use the in flight airline phones before and never heard them. I think most people are vastly overestimating the volume that would occur. I haven't seen people yelling into their phone when we are taxiing to the runway ad I fly pretty frequently, so I doubt it would be an issue in the air with a very limited # of phone calls that can occur at once.
 
2013-03-25 01:20:19 PM

onyxruby: iron_city_ap: Next time you are on a flight, leave your phone on and see how long it is until you lose the signal. It won't be very long.

Used to fly all the time as a traveling consultant. I've heard many a phone ring while traveling in the air. I have no doubt you would quickly drop your call between towers though at cruising altitude.

That being said, millions of flights every year have peoples phones and other gadgets left on and we don't have planes dropping out of the sky. The rule needs overturned as the bureaucratic overreach that it is. The rule doesn't serve the public interest and is proven unfounded every single day on every single flight of any size.


Phones back in the late 90's/early 00's would occasionally interfere with the navigation instruments a little. Modern phones will only cause some audio interference when they are searching for a signal. Its not a big deal and is more of an annoying pain in the ass when it happens. Things like iPods pose no 'threat' of interfering with anything.
 
2013-03-25 01:23:27 PM

pedrop357: Dropping this stupid rule would allow the flight attendants to skip that stupid check where they badger people about whether those earphones are attached to something, and whether that nook is turned off.


They'd just invent something new. Flying is like forcing you into a land ruled by OCD/assburgery types who are obsessed with minutiae. "All headrests have to be down. Yeah, definitely down. Not up. That one's half an inch too high. Gotta put it down. Windows shades have to be open. Definitely open for takeoff. One of them isn't open AAAAAHHHHHH it's spoiling everything!!! Put it up! Put it up! That bag is sticking out too far. The whole thing needs to be under the seat, that seat is 1 degree back too far gotta movie it up, all the tray tables are up but that one, it's ruining everything!!!!!" I think the trolley dollies just like having stuff to biatch about.
 
2013-03-25 01:28:24 PM

Prank Call of Cthulhu: pedrop357: Dropping this stupid rule would allow the flight attendants to skip that stupid check where they badger people about whether those earphones are attached to something, and whether that nook is turned off.

They'd just invent something new. Flying is like forcing you into a land ruled by OCD/assburgery types who are obsessed with minutiae. "All headrests have to be down. Yeah, definitely down. Not up. That one's half an inch too high. Gotta put it down. Windows shades have to be open. Definitely open for takeoff. One of them isn't open AAAAAHHHHHH it's spoiling everything!!! Put it up! Put it up! That bag is sticking out too far. The whole thing needs to be under the seat, that seat is 1 degree back too far gotta movie it up, all the tray tables are up but that one, it's ruining everything!!!!!" I think the trolley dollies just like having stuff to biatch about.


FAA rules.  The airlines don't like them any more than you do.
 
2013-03-25 01:30:37 PM
Cell phones? No. I'm not sure they work on a plane at that altitude anyway. People yammering away during the entire flight would make me wanna jump. My own wife talks waaaay too loudly on her phone and I have to remind her that this isn't 1992 anymore.

During take-off and landing? I don't think it's unreasonable to have these items stores during these times. I figured it was a safety thing since it's likely to run into some bumps and you might drop the things.
 
2013-03-25 01:34:57 PM

peeledpeas: Cell phones? No. I'm not sure they work on a plane at that altitude anyway. People yammering away during the entire flight would make me wanna jump. My own wife talks waaaay too loudly on her phone and I have to remind her that this isn't 1992 anymore.

During take-off and landing? I don't think it's unreasonable to have these items stores during these times. I figured it was a safety thing since it's likely to run into some bumps and you might drop the things.


You'll notice that people are not required to stow books or anything non-electronic.
 
2013-03-25 01:37:21 PM

Ivo Shandor: vygramul: I live in constant fear that terrorists will figure out how dangerous cell phones are and stow a bunch that are turned-on in luggage.

Hypothetically, what if there were a 1-in-a-million chance of an active cell phone causing an accident on a flight? It would be useless as a terrorist tool, the vast majority of people who had flown with a phone turned on would report that absolutely nothing happened, but it would still be a serious overall hazard given the total number of flights that people take each year.

Cell phones can interfere with nearby electronics. This is an easily demonstrated fact. Who here hasn't ever heard the characteristic buzzing and popping of a GSM handset next to a speaker phone or audio amplifier? And that's just audio, not even starting to consider the effect on other radio systems which might happen to be on a harmonic of the frequency being transmitted by the phone. Given that many airlines were designed before the cell-phone era, and the wide diversity of bands and modulation schemes used by phones, I have no problem with them taking a safety-first approach and assuming that phones are potentially dangerous until proved otherwise. Airplane accidents are rarely the result of a single factor, so the concern is not that a phone will bring down a plane by itself but that it could glitch some other system at a critical moment. Again hypothetically, what if a phone transmission interfered with a TCAS message from another plane that was already on a collision course?

There is also a theoretical risk from other electronic devices. They all transmit some radio energy as leakage from the digital signals bouncing around inside them. Most radio receivers work by internally generating their own signal and mixing it with the one from the antenna (e.g. if you're listening to 101.1 FM your radio might be internally generating a 111.9 MHz signal) and this local-oscillator signal does leak out. However the levels of the leaked signals are much low ...


We're ready to sign off on burning battery smoke venting out the side of the plane, I think we can handle a little radio signal leak.
 
2013-03-25 01:42:55 PM

T-Servo: redmid17: For one thing, he and other industry executives said, standard cabin noise covers up much conversational noise, yet people with cellphones pressed to their ears in that environment somehow do not feel the need to speak louder to compensate.

That's BS. Maybe in some cultures, but in the US? Go to an airport business lounge and listen to the paunchy, middle-aged marketing execs speaking into their phones like they're Titanic-era shipboard speaking tubes... it doesn't take much imagination to figure out what they'd be like on planes. And if you lack that imagination, try a train in the UK.


I call it Al Pacino syndrome.

I'M TALKING LOUD SO IT MUST BE IMPORTANT!!! I'M IMPORTANT SO I MUST TALK LOUD!!!!
 
2013-03-25 01:55:57 PM

redmid17: You know Americans fly on international flights too right? I've seen people use the in flight airline phones before and never heard them. I think most people are vastly overestimating the volume that would occur.


Of course, but different types of Americans on average fly Emirates than on a Southwest flight between Baltimore and Cleveland. It's not the average person I worry about, it's the standout blowhard whose conversation can be heard for three or four rows in each direction. I heard it all the time commuting in and out of London (why British intercity trains typically now offer 'mobile free' carriages), and it seemed the most inane conversations carried the farthest ("Yeah, I'm on the train, no, London Bridge, innit? And mah nails today is a sorta sandy rose tuday...").

When Vicky Pollards and Al Pacinos get to use their cell phones on planes, there will be more cases of air rage.
 
2013-03-25 01:59:56 PM

T-Servo: redmid17: You know Americans fly on international flights too right? I've seen people use the in flight airline phones before and never heard them. I think most people are vastly overestimating the volume that would occur.

Of course, but different types of Americans on average fly Emirates than on a Southwest flight between Baltimore and Cleveland. It's not the average person I worry about, it's the standout blowhard whose conversation can be heard for three or four rows in each direction. I heard it all the time commuting in and out of London (why British intercity trains typically now offer 'mobile free' carriages), and it seemed the most inane conversations carried the farthest ("Yeah, I'm on the train, no, London Bridge, innit? And mah nails today is a sorta sandy rose tuday...").

When Vicky Pollards and Al Pacinos get to use their cell phones on planes, there will be more cases of air rage.


I see people talking on phones on trains and buses everyday here in Chicago and it's no louder than if they were talking to their friend next to them. I just don't see it as a problem and I've personally never seen it happen at any point on a plane. Meh
 
2013-03-25 02:02:10 PM
I'm surprised no one noticed that Claire McCaskill is now from MZ instead of MO.
 
2013-03-25 02:03:30 PM
is the tech safe to use without interfering with the aircraft? for the most part yes...thats not the point.

a sudden acceleration/deceleration and that ipad is now a projectile...thats the issue when it hits betty sue in row 23.

are we really to the point in society that this minimal time without our tech is unbearable? i for one say that if you answer yes, you are a tech addict and should consider help.
 
2013-03-25 02:07:26 PM

Your Company's Computer Guy: Flew yesterday, left phone on airplane mode...

Still no cure for loading a plane full of passengers correctly. Hint: Load the back of the plane first you morons so I don't smack everyone with my bag and elbow.


Seriously, why do they fark it up?
 
2013-03-25 02:15:19 PM

Marcus Aurelius: True, but a handset only puts out a few tenths of a watt, while the tower puts out tens of thousands of watts. An airplane could easily get within a thousand yards of one of these during take-off or landing.


A handset can go up to 2W and it will use higher power levels when it's far from a tower or in a partly shielded environment, e.g. in an airplane. Cell towers on the ground are not as powerful as broadcast radio or TV stations. I couldn't find an exact reference but it appears to be closer to 100W than to 10kW.

And then there's the lightning strikes I was talking about.

It's a different problem, and I'm sure that the FAA would prohibit lightning from striking planes if they could.
 
2013-03-25 02:19:44 PM

redmid17: I see people talking on phones on trains and buses everyday here in Chicago and it's no louder than if they were talking to their friend next to them. I just don't see it as a problem and I've personally never seen it happen at any point on a plane. Meh


I'm not disputing your experiences, but it's a matter of environment and expectations, too. Your typical bus in NYC is hardly a quiet place and people use cell phones all the time. But the commuter buses between NYC and Bethlehem, PA (for example) have strict no-phone policies because people using them have crazy hours and are often trying to sleep on them (CSB: and by strict, one guy kept talking when the driver told him to hang up, so the driver pulled the bus over on the side of the NJ expressway and was about to curbstomp the guy and toss him off the bus).

Planes tend to be quieter now than they were in the past, in large part because of personal entertainment systems. Flights also tend to be longer than in the past (long hauls used to be no more than 8 hours before refueling, now 15 hours is not unheard of), and the longer the flight and more chance of delays the more irritable people become. So I think there's more expectation that the cabins remain quiet.

/in my own experience (on average I fly 10000 miles a month), I've heard plenty of people almost yelling into their phones at the gate, which is mercifully cut off when the aircraft doors are closed
 
2013-03-25 02:26:43 PM

W C Feels: Calmamity: As long as cell phones remain verboten.

Or, conversely, as long as knives remain allowed and the rules are further loosened so I can stab any motherfu*ker on their phone next to me.

Well, there is the slight (documented) problem with a DVD player throwing the navigation system off by 30 degrees, but hey, what's a continent or two between friends.


There was a PBS documentary about the crash of a commercial airliner in South America. The plane basically came apart at high altitude. The passengers all ended up naked and dead among the jungle trees.

When the flight was reconstructed using recovered black boxes, it turns out the plane had dual bank indicators. You could set them to A following B, B following A or independent. They were set to A following B. Only problem was B was malfunctioning.

They ended up crashing due to a 2 or 3 degree bank that wasn't even there. The pilots would correct then the indicators would give another bad reading, the pilots would correct....
 
2013-03-25 02:28:21 PM
One thing I've noticed -- over the last five years, the novelty of yelling into a phone every waking moment appears to have worn off. Or maybe a lot more information's being transmitted by text. Or maybe a little of both. Whatever's going on, you don't see those hollering Bluetooth guys wandering around airports like you used to, or standing at urinals. They've pretty much disappeared.

So I'm not as annoyed as I was a few years ago at the prospect of a planeful of douchey jerks yammering into their phones.

On the other hand, we'll always have those people for whom not talking for a couple hours is sheer torture. You know the ones, the airlines somehow always manage to seat them next to their own kind. And we'll always have those men who won't shut up if there's a pretty woman in the seat next to them, or the one next to that.
 
2013-03-25 02:29:02 PM

evildick: vudukungfu: Dude. You can blow up an huge space ship with just an apple lap top.
Saw it in a move once.
they can't put it in a movie if it isn't true.

/Bon JOUR!

[pbs.twimg.com image 482x665]


That dude has the longest, creepiest fingers I have ever seen.  Now you'll see them every time that ad comes on too!
 
2013-03-25 02:34:07 PM

debug: That dude has the longest, creepiest fingers I have ever seen.  Now you'll see them every time that ad comes on too!


But the girl.
I'd slip slap paddy whack that all night long.
 
2013-03-25 02:34:24 PM
See...

domania.us
 
2013-03-25 03:05:45 PM
I think Mythbusters put it best... it's no longer about "electronic interference" from devices, however most problems do occur on takeoff and landing and it would be better not to have a bunch of phones and tablets flying about the cabin banging people in the head.    If the FAA would just update the announcements to THAT fact instead of "could interfere with the plane's navigation" which we all know is BS, I'd be fine with that.
 
2013-03-25 03:35:52 PM

redmid17: You'll notice that people are not required to stow books or anything non-electronic


Actually, they are. Federal Aviation Regulations technically require that EVERYTHING be stowed. That includes books, food, drinks, etc... Most flight attendants just don't want to deal with the shiat storm of actually enforcing the regulations that harshly. The rest probably don't even realize what they say.

rkettens: Seriously, why do they fark it up?

Because boarding earlier is a benefit they can give someone for signing up for the airline branded credit card and it costs them nothing to do it. Same with First class boarding first, it costs the airline $0 to do it and people want the perk. Personally, I want to spend as little time as possible cooped up with everyone else and will usually board as close to last as possible. Especially when I am sitting in the front. 

atlevangelist: I think Mythbusters put it best... it's no longer about "electronic interference" from devices, however most problems do occur on takeoff and landing and it would be better not to have a bunch of phones and tablets flying about the cabin banging people in the head.    If the FAA would just update the announcements to THAT fact instead of "could interfere with the plane's navigation" which we all know is BS, I'd be fine with that.


Only problem with that is that I have witnessed cell phones causing problems with both ILS systems and radios firsthand. It was actually my phone that caused the problem. I left it turned on in the closet while I was in the jumpseat.
 
2013-03-25 03:49:54 PM

Your Company's Computer Guy: Flew yesterday, left phone on airplane mode...

Still no cure for loading a plane full of passengers correctly. Hint: Load the back of the plane first you morons so I don't smack everyone with my bag and elbow.


This is what frustrates me about United and their stupid boarding groups. Plus, everyone sitting in the back gets stuck waiting behind the people in the middle to get into their seats.
 
2013-03-25 03:58:37 PM

notsosilentbob: redmid17: You'll notice that people are not required to stow books or anything non-electronic

Actually, they are. Federal Aviation Regulations technically require that EVERYTHING be stowed. That includes books, food, drinks, etc... Most flight attendants just don't want to deal with the shiat storm of actually enforcing the regulations that harshly. The rest probably don't even realize what they say.


Respectfully, I don't see it... 14 FAR 91.535 states:
Stowage of food, beverage, and passenger service equipment during aircraft movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing.(a) No operator may move an aircraft on the surface, take off, or land when any food, beverage, or tableware furnished by the operator is located at any passenger seat.

(b) No operator may move an aircraft on the surface, take off, or land unless each food and beverage tray and seat back tray table is secured in its stowed position.

(c) No operator may permit an aircraft to move on the surface, take off, or land unless each passenger serving cart is secured in its stowed position.

(d) No operator may permit an aircraft to move on the surface, take off, or land unless each movie screen that extends into the aisle is stowed.

(e) Each passenger shall comply with instructions given by a crewmember with regard to compliance with this section.


That doesn't seem to apply to any food or beverage  not furnished by the operator, as well as not mentioning things like books. Is there some other section, maybe?
 
2013-03-25 04:04:13 PM

Ivo Shandor: vygramul: I live in constant fear that terrorists will figure out how dangerous cell phones are and stow a bunch that are turned-on in luggage.

Hypothetically, what if there were a 1-in-a-million chance of an active cell phone causing an accident on a flight? It would be useless as a terrorist tool, the vast majority of people who had flown with a phone turned on would report that absolutely nothing happened, but it would still be a serious overall hazard given the total number of flights that people take each year.

Cell phones can interfere with nearby electronics. This is an easily demonstrated fact. Who here hasn't ever heard the characteristic buzzing and popping of a GSM handset next to a speaker phone or audio amplifier? And that's just audio, not even starting to consider the effect on other radio systems which might happen to be on a harmonic of the frequency being transmitted by the phone. Given that many airlines were designed before the cell-phone era, and the wide diversity of bands and modulation schemes used by phones, I have no problem with them taking a safety-first approach and assuming that phones are potentially dangerous until proved otherwise. Airplane accidents are rarely the result of a single factor, so the concern is not that a phone will bring down a plane by itself but that it could glitch some other system at a critical moment. Again hypothetically, what if a phone transmission interfered with a TCAS message from another plane that was already on a collision course?

There is also a theoretical risk from other electronic devices. They all transmit some radio energy as leakage from the digital signals bouncing around inside them. Most radio receivers work by internally generating their own signal and mixing it with the one from the antenna (e.g. if you're listening to 101.1 FM your radio might be internally generating a 111.9 MHz signal) and this local-oscillator signal does leak out. However the levels of the leaked signals are much low ...


Those internal FM oscillators are, AFAIK, the only devices actually demonstrated to cause problems in controlled FAA experiments. The FM broadcast band is adjacent to the band used for legacy air navigation. That 111.9 MHz signal you mention is exactly the frequency of several US navigational aids, in fact.

While GPS is now the primary navigation method while flying cross-country, many instrument landings are still done using this older gear. That's the interference the FAA was afraid of. Cross-country flight has plenty of room for error, but ILS landings don't. Since hardware FM tuners inside consumer tech and ILS are both dying technologies, this one's self-correcting.

As others have mentioned, the main problem with cellphone use on planes is your phone screws up the cellphone network for other users on the ground. Nobody but the phone company technicians would ever notice a single user, but 200 people on an airliner all using their cellphones would cause network problems across a hundred square miles. The best apparent fix is to put a little cellphone "tower" inside the cabin, so all the phones stay on low power and don't interfere with the ground towers.

Not letting people use their other devices when near the ground is mostly due to them flying out of your hands and injuring people during a rough landing. And even while prohibited, it happens thousands of times a year. Just search the NTSB incident database for the keyword "FOI" (flying object injury). Mostly just cuts and bruises, of course. Though I recall a story a couple of years ago about a toddler hit in the temple by a flying tablet who needed brain surgery.
 
2013-03-25 04:15:00 PM

TheShavingofOccam123: W C Feels: Calmamity: As long as cell phones remain verboten.

Or, conversely, as long as knives remain allowed and the rules are further loosened so I can stab any motherfu*ker on their phone next to me.

Well, there is the slight (documented) problem with a DVD player throwing the navigation system off by 30 degrees, but hey, what's a continent or two between friends.

There was a PBS documentary about the crash of a commercial airliner in South America. The plane basically came apart at high altitude. The passengers all ended up naked and dead among the jungle trees.

When the flight was reconstructed using recovered black boxes, it turns out the plane had dual bank indicators. You could set them to A following B, B following A or independent. They were set to A following B. Only problem was B was malfunctioning.

They ended up crashing due to a 2 or 3 degree bank that wasn't even there. The pilots would correct then the indicators would give another bad reading, the pilots would correct....


Was that the one where the pilots over-corrected and ending up rolling the plane?
 
2013-03-25 04:22:48 PM
I am actually genuinely surprised that no terrorists have tried using RF interference to disrupt air travel. Your cell phone may not have the oomph to do it, but it couldn't be that hard to get something that could into a suitcase, perhaps on a timer.

I guess it's because you couldn't reliably cause trouble. Your putative RF terrorist would need to disrupt instruments or communication at a crucial moment - perhaps a night instrument landing at an airport where there's a sheer drop or body of water right at one end or the other of the runway - and you still couldn't be sure the pilots couldn't correct for it.

Even then, it can't be all that more unreliable than a shoe or underwear bomb or amateur binary explosive. So it's probably mostly that there aren't enough terrorists who know enough about aircraft RF vulnerability to exploit it.

/I'll turn off my Bluetooth earbuds if and only if the stewardess notices they're on
 
2013-03-25 04:40:01 PM

Beowoolfie: The best apparent fix is to put a little cellphone "tower" inside the cabin, so all the phones stay on low power and don't interfere with the ground towers.


One problem with that is trying to cover all of the possible bands and technologies, particularly if you consider international travellers. Even on plain GSM you have phones that speak various combinations of 850/900/1800/1900 MHz. 3G adds at least 1700/2100, LTE adds a pile more. Any phone that isn't compatible with the on-board cell is going to continue shouting at the ground.
 
2013-03-25 04:41:01 PM
I read that as Alec Baldwin is planning a Words With Friends flight party.
 
2013-03-25 04:49:19 PM

Calmamity: As long as cell phones remain verboten.



If cell phones could harm airplanes, Al Qaeda would have killed us all with a campaign of covert in-air cell-phone use years ago.

Given how long this stuff has been banned, and the fact that there are no recent airliner crashes attributable to in-air electronics usage (in spite of how many people have probably intentionally or accidentally violated the ban over the years), it should be empirically obvious that there is no danger.

/ and its the FAA's job is to keep you safe, not necessarily to keep you calm & happy
 
2013-03-25 05:24:12 PM

grinding_journalist: Wow. I can use something for an extra 20 minutes of flight time? That's been such a huge imposition on my lifestyle.

How about we work on something relevant, like reducing or eliminating volumes of TSA staff?


You mock, but if you were a frequent flier, you'd quickly learn that there's only so many time that you can read an issue of Horizons.
 
2013-03-25 05:38:31 PM

peeledpeas: Cell phones? No. I'm not sure they work on a plane at that altitude anyway. People yammering away during the entire flight would make me wanna jump. My own wife talks waaaay too loudly on her phone and I have to remind her that this isn't 1992 anymore.

During take-off and landing? I don't think it's unreasonable to have these items stores during these times. I figured it was a safety thing since it's likely to run into some bumps and you might drop the things.


Right, that one pound nook is a huge farking problem, but a 40 pound squirming 2 year-old kid on someone's lap is totally safe.
 
2013-03-25 06:19:46 PM

RickN99: TheShavingofOccam123: W C Feels: Calmamity: As long as cell phones remain verboten.

Or, conversely, as long as knives remain allowed and the rules are further loosened so I can stab any motherfu*ker on their phone next to me.

Well, there is the slight (documented) problem with a DVD player throwing the navigation system off by 30 degrees, but hey, what's a continent or two between friends.

There was a PBS documentary about the crash of a commercial airliner in South America. The plane basically came apart at high altitude. The passengers all ended up naked and dead among the jungle trees.

When the flight was reconstructed using recovered black boxes, it turns out the plane had dual bank indicators. You could set them to A following B, B following A or independent. They were set to A following B. Only problem was B was malfunctioning.

They ended up crashing due to a 2 or 3 degree bank that wasn't even there. The pilots would correct then the indicators would give another bad reading, the pilots would correct....

Was that the one where the pilots over-corrected and ending up rolling the plane?


Yep. The graphical flight reconstruction on the documentary broke my heart.
 
2013-03-25 06:41:38 PM
..that's assuming the TSA screeners haven't stolen them, of course.
 
2013-03-25 06:59:28 PM

buzzcut73: Calmamity: As long as cell phones remain verboten.

Or, conversely, as long as knives remain allowed and the rules are further loosened so I can stab any motherfu*ker on their phone next to me.

This. I can't imagine being stuck in a tube with 150 or more other people, half of which are so important and vital to national secuirty/the economy/their company that they have to be in constant contact.

Its one thing when you're somewhere that you can tune it out for a few minutes and leave, but a 6 hour transcon? That would suck.


It's almost as if you can't put headphones on to block out their conversations.
 
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