Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

This is why you do actually need to switch your phone to flight mode

flightmode.jpg

Among the many annoyances (yes, we're aware this is #firstworldproblem territory) of flying is being asked to switch your phone on to flight mode well before taking off, forcing us to miss out on that crucial extra two minutes of checking Twitter.

After all, we all know that it doesn't affect the plane's instruments or ability to fly - that's all been proven to be a load of nonsense, right?

Well, yes, that is correct - but there is a very good reason for the request: an active phone can annoy pilots and air traffic controllers by creating interference on an aircraft's radios. It's the same phenomenon that you might have noticed when a phone is near a speaker - that irritating "dit-dit-dit-dit" noise.

A blog post for AirlineUpdates saw a pilot write that phones can cause audible interference, although it is fairly rare. They wrote that it only happens a couple of a times a month, although it's most likely to be caused by flight attendants themselves, as they sit closest to the radios.

The post explains that three factors have to be taken into consideration for it to become an issue:

1. "Timing. Most of the time, the phone has to be actively transmitting at high power to cause the audible interference. That means it needs to be sending or receiving a call at the edge of cell reception, which is usually around 5,000 to 10,000 feet. On the ground with good reception it’s rare to hear the interference (but not impossible) and for most of the flight above 10,000′ you don’t have reception and your phone is just blissfully draining its battery in peace."

2. "The phone. Some models are worse than others, with GSM phones being some of the worst offenders. And as time goes on, I’m hearing it less and less as phone technology advances."

3. "The airplane. My personal opinion is that size is more of a factor than age here. Most of my flight experience over the past decade has been in smaller regional jets. An electrical engineer will be able to give you equations about field strength and dropoff over distance. I’m not an electrical engineer, so I’ll sum it up and say that you have to be pretty close to the radio equipment for your phone to interfere. So in a 767 with a wide fuselage and a galley between the cockpit and first class there might not be any passenger seat close enough to radio equipment for a cell phone to interfere. On a RJ, the first few seats can be within ten feet of the pilots’ radios. All of these have to coincide for a phone to cause audible interference."

So, although it's not exactly a big problem, ensuring that pilots are happy and relaxed is, in all likelihood, probably quite a good thing.

(Image: Shutterstock)

Related

hover.jpg

Someone finally made a working hoverboard

frankunderwood.jpg

House Of Cards is trolling David Cameron over his tax scandal

painting.jpg

This incredible Rembrandt painting was 'painted' by a computer

More

Everyone is obsessed with these £6 earphones - here's why

They have over 25,000 5-star ratings on Amazon

by Gary Ogden
15 Aug 2017

An ode to MSN Messenger: The best instant messaging app of all time

Nothing can ever come close

by Gary Ogden
11 Aug 2017

This simple hack will make music sound louder on your iPhone

Turn that thing up to 11

by Emily Reynolds
10 Aug 2017

These 2004 Apple 'rules for success' show why the company is so huge

"Have fun, otherwise it’s not worth it"

by Tom Victor
10 Aug 2017

Facebook has launched a new feature to kill off TV and Netflix

It's trying to take over your life even more

by Dave Fawbert
10 Aug 2017

Tinder is trying to cut out one of its users' most annoying habits

It's about time

by Gary Ogden
04 Aug 2017

Facebook AI bots develop own language, start planning to murder us

Oh good. Good. This is good

by Gary Ogden
01 Aug 2017

'The Sims' is not escapism, it's the saddest game ever made

Want an escape from real life? Do anything but reinstall The Sims

by Tristan Cross
29 Jul 2017

Your old iPod could be worth a lot of money

Time to cash in?

by Tom Victor
28 Jul 2017

Here's why closing inactive iPhone apps is actually a bad idea

Well now you know

by Matt Tate
25 Jul 2017