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Tuesday November 29, 2011 10:10 am

Why do we have to turn off electronic devices during flight takeoff and landing?


Airplane Mode

I must confess that I sometimes neglect to power down my iPad, iPhone, and other electronics during takeoff and landing. People near me also don't switch off their iPods either, and yet, despite flight attendants' instructions to turn off our electronics, the plane arrived at its destination safely.

Chances are, we weren't the only ones who broke the familiar rule. So just why does the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) still require people to turn off their gadgets?

A Sunday report from the New York Times claims that even the FAA hasn't found proof that the use of electronics pose a threat during takeoff and landing. But FAA spokesperson Les Dorr told the Times that it would prefer to be overly cautious when it comes to the policy.

In 2006, the FAA commissioned the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics to test the effects of cell phones and other portable electronics on flights.

It concluded that there was "insufficient information to support changing the policies," Dorr said. "There was no evidence saying these devices can't interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can."


But why does the device need to be shut off completely when most electronics can be put in "Airplane Mode" in order to disable their radio signals? And might it be even more dangerous if all passengers turned on their electronics at the same time, once the plane was in the air?

The Times pointed out that "surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn't allow passengers to board a plane with an iPad or Kindle, for fear they would be used by terrorists."

In fact, there are no reported crashes that happened because electronics were being used onboard, the Times said.

Many airlines, including American, United, and Delta, among others, have begun to replace pilots' paper flight manuals with iPads, however, even pilots aren't exempt from the rule and are forced to turn off the iPads at the beginning and end of each flight.

This article, written by Leslie Horn, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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Comments:

AS far as I can remember, my dad would tell me to turn off my electronics because the signals (not really sure what those signals are) can interfere with the communication between the plane and the commanding tower. When it comes to technical stuff like that, I would choose to not dig into details and just be like “okay.” Now, I have formed a habit of turning off my phone before boarding any aircraft. :D

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