People who use their mobile devices might not cause the plane they’re on to crash, but they will get apprehended by flight attendants who will constantly pester you to turn off your device at once, or at least leave it in airplane mode. They do this as a “precautionary measure”, even though research has proven that there is no direct link between mobile devices and aircraft interference.
One such research was done by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in which they asked the RTCA to study the issue of devices on airplanes in 1992. Results have found that devices ‘cause virtually no interference and even recommended allowing the use of laptops, gaming devices, and music players. However, they still suggested to ban the use of all devices during the critical stages of takeoff and landing.
Boeing also conducted a similar study in the 1990s in which they investigated reports of laptop computers or gaming devices causing autopilot disconnects, uncommanded airplane rolls, and display malfunctions. However, they weren’t able to replicate the reported cases in lab tests.
Source: Business Insider
Cellphones, laptops, and other wireless devices were also an area of concern. They emit active transmissions on the electromagnetic spectrum to allow access to phone, radio, and Wi-Fi signals. The FCC however had divided the spectrum into different parts for different uses, hence mobile devices shouldn’t be able to interfere with aircraft communication and GPS systems.
With this in mind, we can say that the reason wireless devices are still banned has less to do with aircraft system interference and more with ground networks. The FCC still bans mobile and wireless devices citing “ground network interference” as a reason. Some airlines however still allow their passengers to use their phones in “airplane mode”, which shuts off all phone transmissions.
Source: New York Daily News
Back in 2007, the FCC had considered lifting this ban. They had found that there wasn’t enough evidence that proves that mobile and wireless devices cause ground network interference. They still kept the ban though, since there also wasn’t enough evidence to say that mobile devices don’t cause interference.
So basically, the reason why most airlines ban the use of cellphones, laptops, and other gadgets isn’t because of a proven direct link. They just aren’t risking a possible plane crash and prefer to play it safe.
Source: Guardian Liberty Voice
This doesn’t stop most people from using their phones in airplanes, as a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh said that 1 to 4 phone calls were made every single flight in 2006. Even aircraft crew members were allowed to use their phones; with the only complaint being a first officer’s ringtone being a distraction to the pilot during takeoff.