Finally a nod to common sense in the aviation industry! To think an aircraft that could be brought down by a mobile phone is just plain foolishness.
There are many cases where RF interference has caused problems; an airplane is a terrible place to find out out about it by accident.
what about texting?
Mel Tisdale
@ slowburn
All too true. There are times to bow to political pressure and times not to. This is one of the latter.
From what I have seen on the issue, I doubt that I will feel very safe when flying in future until I see some scientific evidence that RF interference is no longer the problem that it most definitely has been in the past.
David Bell
@P.E.T. - Texting generally requires cellular access, so no, unless you magically have WiFi. And tethering to create a local WiFi hotspot *also* uses cellular data...
Many flights have in-flight wifi.
There's no way I can turn off my cell-radio only - "airplane mode" disables cell + wifi + bluetooth all at once. Google. Apple. Are you listening? We need some new settings options guys,
RF has caused problems with Avionics? Would that be the high powered VHF or HF radios on board the aircraft? Or would it be the High powered RADAR systems they utilise on board the aircraft? If RF was so dangerous, they wouldn't use any of these things because they produce RF in substantial quantities. In reality these systems are carefully engineered and tested exhaustively to ensure they have adequate shielding and RF protection measures so they do not interfere with other devices or vice versa. The biggest risk has always been during the refueling as all RF can potentially induce currents into a resonant conductor and if these currents were significant these conductors could possibly cause a spark. The same logic why they don't want you to use a mobile phone at a petrol station. Despite the theory, it is so unlikely that it is nothing short of bizzare that they bother. People regularly leave their phones despite the warnings and the pilots don't ground the aircraft while they search for the offenders. If it was really a risk, they would be negligent by not running scanners before departing the terminals and finding any offending devices. The saddest part about the relaxation of the regulations is it will take years before Australia's Aviation authority - the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), moves in the same direction. Those in Australia's Aviation industry know CASA has an unofficial moto - "We're not happy until you're not happy".
@christopher. I just did a test. I switched my Google Nexus 4 to airplane mode, then went and turned bluetooth and WiFi back on. It works. I can surf the web via WiFi but not make a phone call.
@Mel, There is a huge difference between the milliwatts of transmitter power used for WiFi and Bluetooth, and the watts used by the cellular transmitter in your 'phone. If I thought for a moment the lower powers of WiFi and BT could upset the avionics, I'd never get on the plane.
I welcome this sensible decision by the FAA, and hope it filters through toAustralia sometime soon. Being told the other to turn off a standard Kindle, that runs on flea power, is totally silly.
As an electronics engineer I know how strict the rules are for making my products immune to Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI). No doubt stricter rules apply to aircraft than to the industrial, solidly ground based stuff I work with.