Print 58 comment(s) - last by omgwtf8888.. on Jan 3 at 3:44 PM

  (Source: NBC Universal)
Passengers are acting out against the rules and even hurting one another

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worries that electronic device use on planes places passengers in harm's way, but the real issue is that the FAA is spreading fear about an issue that hasn't been proven yet.

The FAA has set rules that make it so passengers cannot use electronic devices like smartphones, tablets and e-readers during takeoff and landing on a flight. However, there is no solid proof that electronics affect the way a plane performs. This has been in question for some time, but the FAA continues to impose these rules on passengers, and it has caused panic and even injuries among those who travel by plane.

For instance, a 68-year-old man punched a 15-year-old on a plane when the teenager refused to turn off his smartphone during a flight. According to the man, he was doing it to save the entire plane from any harmful consequences.

Just a couple of months ago, a passenger was arrested in El Paso when he decided not to turn off his cell phone during landing. Last month, another passenger did the same when landing in New York and a swarm of cop cars were waiting for him once he exited the plane.

Of course, many also remember the incident where Alec Baldwin was kicked off a plane in 2011 for playing Words With Friends.

This goes to show that the FAA is causing more trouble by making people believe that electronics are an issue when they may very well not be.

Back in March, the FAA said it would review the effects of tablet/e-reader use during takeoff and landing.

 Pilots can already use iPads during the entire flight [Image Soure: The AirplaneNut]

The FAA likely put this testing off due to costs and the amount of testing required for these devices to pass. In order for the FAA to approve the use of e-readers and tablets during takeoff and landing, each kind of device needs to be tested. For example, an iPad cannot be tested alone; the iPad 2 and the new iPad must be tested as well. There are already several versions of the Kindle available as well, such as the Kindle Fire tablet, and many other Android-powered tablets on the market. There are now Windows 8 tablets on the market too.

In early December 2011, the FAA raised a few eyebrows when allowing American Airlines pilots to use iPads in the cockpit. The FAA allowed iPads to replace paper manuals and charts, and they could be used during takeoff and landing. The FAA argued that allowing two iPads in the cockpit was a significantly different scenario than several passengers using several devices for longer periods of time.

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pressured the FAA to allow greater use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing because "they empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost U.S. competitiveness."

Source: The New York Times

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RE: What a dumb ARSE story
By Jarhead on 1/1/2013 1:48:45 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, yes. But imagine just half the passengers all had their devices operating at the same time? Consider that.

Then, Avionics inside the aircraft are tested to different standards than those that the connect to the outside. It is common for High Energy RF testing to allow well over 40dB lower test levels for the electronics inside the airframe, due to the shielding of the airframe. This is power, so every 3 dB is 1/2 (or 2x depending on which way you are going). So lets say a source outside the airframe is 1,000 Watts- Swell the electronics that deal with the outside get tested with a 1,000W level. Allowing for the 40dB attenuation of the airframe, the source inside the airframe for the internal electronics would be exposed to less than 0.005 Watts to pass. Most of us know a cell phone emits much more than 0.005 Watts. Same thing goes for other signals outside the aiframe, they are greatly attenuated. However, the internal Avionics are usually tested at higher levels than 0,005W, as there are other even higher power devices that the aircraft will encounter. The levels also change depending on the band (frequency range).

Now for the Avionics, failure is given in several different descriptions. One is that the device under test will give no false or misleading information during the threat's emission. Great, that helps, since many threats are not present all the time, but just a momentary emission. Consider if you had 100 cell phones and tablets bleeping and blopping 4G, 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth constantly. Just because one or two devices in use by the aircrew (like pilots) don't cause an issue, imagine the effect of hundreds of devices throughout the airframe. Worse yet, imagine all those devices emitting inside a metal chamber, where all that signal is contained and reflected around (yes, there is some attenuation effects caused by the absorption of that energy by the humans in that space, but still...). Imagine your wiring running down the inside walls of that metal can, and how a good amount of it is actually un-shielded.

bobsmith1492- I have watched multiple times, several pieces of Avionics failing the testing for FAA certification, only to find out that one single cell phone was the source of the failure, and once the cell phone was turned off, the Avionics passed with flying colors, and have gone on to be FAA certified. Consider that the cabling used during testing is usually very short (few feet), what the effects would be if the wiring was many yards long, and what it might do. One test I watched them turn the Bluetooth of all things, off on a tech's phone, and all of a sudden the Avionics under test worked fine! And Bluetooth uses very low power levels. Go figure...

RE: What a dumb ARSE story
By ssj3gohan on 1/2/2013 5:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
This is a common fallacy - compounding many independent small sources into one big source. In reality this is almost the opposite of what happens. Cellular and other wireless technologies use many small sub-bands and more importantly time-sharing in channels to give each other room to communicate. If you have a plane full of 300 WCDMA modems at 100mW (or -20dBi), according to your concept that would result in a 30W, close-to 0dBi (i.e. mind-numbingly high power) interference source, but in reality all these devices are time-shared over something like 4 or 6 channels, so the maximum possible total transceiver power on at any moment is more likely to be half a watt. That, still, is another fallacy because many independent sources do not sum as they interfere (mostly destructively) with each other.

Both in terms of radio units (-dB, watts) and electromagnetic units (H, B-field) these are puny numbers, especially in light of what we're talking about: interference into wired systems. You need extremely high interference levels to perturb wired systems, especially industrial wired systems in airplanes.

RE: What a dumb ARSE story
By PaFromFL on 1/2/2013 8:35:01 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly! The FCC and FAA only need to calculate the worst-case increase in the noise floor and base their decision on that. I doubt that any system on any aircraft will be affected. If some unusual circumstance weakens aircraft communication links, the pilot could then command passengers to turn off all devices.

Note that a million people with portable electronics devices can crowd together in Times Square without catching fire or interfering with multiple TV show productions and news reporting.

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