Print 56 comment(s) - last by elgoliath.. on Oct 10 at 1:29 PM

Just say no; that is the FAA's stance on cell phones on planes.

Ever since cell phones first became popular, a constant among almost every airplane flight has been an order to turn off your cell phones.  These orders have been courtesy of the in-flight ban on mobile phones by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), the government body which oversees air travel in the U.S.

Many saw this ban as an unnecessary inconvenience, given that little actual scientific investigation had been conducted into fears of interference.  There were numerous proposals to lift the ban or to possibly allow special lower power phones designed to work in the air.

Now FAA officials have announced that due to public outcry, they will be dropping the proposals to lift the ban and announced that the ban would stay in place for "the foreseeable future."

While the FAA cited public outrage as justification for leaving the ban in place, the announcement follows research from last year investigating the phenomena.  Last year, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study which was featured in the IEEE Spectrum publication.  The study, surprisingly, was thought to be the first of its kind.  It found that portable radio frequency emitting devices such as cell phones could easily cause interference in onboard instruments, such as the GPS, greatly raising the risk of accident or other flight difficulties.

Still, the FAA relied mostly on public opinion on the issue and showed no indication of being swayed by these recent studies.

In Britain, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Britain's equivalent of the FAA, found 20 incidents of airplane malfunction between January 2000 and August 2005, which it deemed caused by cell phones.

Despite these result, the European Aviation Safety Agency approved the use of in-flight mobile phones provided by the communications company ON Air. These devices transmit weaker signals, hopefully yielding less interference.  Air France, Tap Air Portugal, and Rayanair are among the European air carriers planning to adopt the technology.

Internationally, many carriers including Emirates and AirAsia are planning to adopt this technology as well.

In Britain there has been a large grassroots movement to block potential introduction of cell phones on planes.  Among the movements backers is British parliament member Lee Scott, who is very much against these approvals and sees the phones as possible security threats.  "The Madrid train bombs in 2004 were set off by mobile phone,” Scott elaborated. "What will be the security implications of everyone having mobiles switched on at 30,000 [feet]? It can only put even greater pressure on airport security staff."

As world powers ponder on this issue, the truly facet of this issue is the lack of peer-reviewed scientific research on this topic, which obviously has greatly implications on citizens’ daily lives.

Hopefully in the future, this topic will be more thoroughly researched and possibly mobile phones can be built to someday safely operate within the airplane electronic environment.  While some may dream of using their cell phones on planes, for now, they will continue to be banned on American flights for the near future ... even on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

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RE: what does this have to do with anything?
By Master Kenobi on 10/9/2007 9:42:16 AM , Rating: 2
I think the real problem is whats stopping someone from slipping some plastic explosives onboard in luggage with a Cell phone wired to it. Simply dial the number and the plane explodes mid-flight.

RE: what does this have to do with anything?
By defter on 10/9/2007 10:02:09 AM , Rating: 2
Are you serious? Haven't you heard about security checks?

If you manage to bring explosives to the plane, then it isn't that hard to find a way to detonate it.

RE: what does this have to do with anything?
By TomZ on 10/9/2007 10:42:02 AM , Rating: 2
I personally doubt the actual level of security provided by TSA/FAA/etc. A few months after 9/11, by accident I carried a pocket knife/leatherman tool on board. I forgot I had it in my camera bag. I passed through x-ray security, and I was even chosen for a random "audit" full search at the gate as well. Neither check noticed the knife in my bag. I didn't realize I had it with me until I was in-flight.

In my view, the only security improvement that I can tell is the stronger cockpit doors, which is a good thing. I think the rest is pure BS and probably millions/billions in wasted taxpayer dollars.

By elgoliath on 10/9/2007 2:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
I can attest that their security does work. Not long after 9/11, before the 'safety' concerns became standard and people were used to them, I made the mistake of bringing a plastic gun that looked nothing like a real one (not justifying it- it was a nerf type) in my carry on luggage for my nephew (yes, it was one of my brighter moments :P). Well, 45 minutes and 10 cops later, they *finally* decided the gun was safe to throw away as I had been requesting at which point they tossed it into the nearest trash can in the public part of the terminal.

I say this because I noticed while they had me 'detained' every single one of the security employees had their attention either focused on me or were making jokes, so I had to ask myself how many people were they letting through while they wer preoccupied by a nerf gun? Kinda like the college student with the art on her shirt.

Our current security measures do in fact work, but only if the 'terrorist' is doing something outright obvious. Unfortunately, they usually don't.

People just need to stop with the knee jerk reactions which do nothing more than limit our freedoms, needlessly complicate our lives and don't really do anything remotely like what they are supposed to do. We need to stop living in fear, the same fear that has kept our current president in office and allowed him to further vilify americans to every other country.

By Polynikes on 10/9/2007 12:10:55 PM , Rating: 2
In all airports I've seen now, they check for explosives with special machines, and manual searches are done; ever had a lighter disappear from your luggage with a nice message card left in your bag to tell you it was searched? If someone can smuggle explosives into their luggage then they can PROBABLY smuggle a cell phone on board.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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