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Why Can’t You Use Your Cell Phone On An Airplane?

“Please turn off or set all electronic devices to flight mode before takeoff.”

Anyone would recognize this sentence if they had ever flown on an airplane. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned the in-flight use of most cell phones and wireless devices back in 1991 due to the threat of cellular tower interference that could potentially lead to a crash. In order to stress in-flight safety, passengers on an aircraft are not allowed to argue or disobey the flight staff on this issue as this could to possible jail time.

 

New Rule On Cell Phone Use

Having said that, on October 31, 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight. With this announcement, passengers are now able to use their electronics in airplane mode and use Wi-Fi if the service is provided. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox had stated the following: “We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights.”   

 

New Technology For In-Flight Cell Phone Use

“A picocell in an aircraft for the wireless transmission of data between at least a mobile station in the aircraft and a base station in the aircraft in which a communications connection between the at least one mobile station in the aircraft and a subscriber in a terrestrial communications network is established via the base station.” -Google Patents

Picocells provide a blanket to the outside of the plane with an EMI. This shields the plane and keeps all the cellphone signals from the electronic devices inside. With this technology, ground interference is a thing of the past.

 

The Real Reason Why You Can’t Use Your Cell Phone In-Flight

Silence. Travelling is tiring to say the least. Most of us want to get our sleep while we can and don’t want to be sitting next to someone that is constantly talking on the phone. Aside from the need to maintain proper order on flights, airline attendants and passengers do not want to spend hours on end listening to other people’s conversations. Having said that, we do that having full use of your phone during a flight can be rewarding. For example, you won’t be stuck watching the same movies over and over again or you’ll be able to contact someone that is picking you up in advance. Overall, finding a balance between courtesy and efficiency will be the challenge for airlines. Hopefully in the near future, we’ll all be happy with what is allowed in-flight.  


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