Electronic gadgets in flights

Thursday, April 28, 2011, 19:44 by Aviation Correspondent

Before take off, flight attendants persuade us to switch off all electronic gadgets as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Most of us think that the main reason for this measure is that the gadgets interfere with the avionics of the airplane. But surprisingly the official reason for the procedure is to make sure passengers on board listen to the safety instructions provided by the flight crew, to prevent loose objects around in case of an emergency and to avoid any chances of the devices obstructing the airline’s communication.

Recently, the levels of violating such protocols and the succeeding penalties have been high. A Hollywood actor was thrown out of an already delayed flight after refusing to turn off his Blackberry in spite of repeated requests by a flight attendant.

Electronic devices are to be turned off under 10,000 feet while taking off or landing, the most critical parts of a flight. At lower altitudes there’s very little area to recover in the case of any fault and hence navigation and course corrections are very essential in this part.
But the FAA’s website reports that they are not sure as to how the electronic radiation will interfere with the avionics of a plane.

Nowadays, many airlines allow passengers to switch on their mobiles once landed. A couple of years back, American Airlines thought it was fine to do the same and tested by allowing passengers to turn on their mobiles after landing and taxiing to the gate.

Some airlines around the world even allow mobiles during flight, like Emirates Airlines, Dubai has permitted mobile phone usage since March 2008. Singapore Airlines this year plans to introduce mobile phone connectivity at 35,000 feet.
An American Airlines representative told that most Americans didn’t insist on having mobiles used in flights. That means there’s no need for any push to allow mobiles in flights in the US.

But the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is more concerned about the effect of cell phones to wireless networks on the ground. Even infotainment systems like WiFi and interactive TV need to approved by the FAA for the possible interaction with the navigation system of the plane.

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