We all know by heart: “Please make sure your seats are upright, trays down, blinds open, laptops stacked in overhead bins, and electronics in airplane mode.”

Frankly, the first four are reasonable, right? The shutters need to be open so that we can see if there is an emergency such as a fire. The folding tables must be folded and the seats must be in an upright position so that we can get out of the seat quickly when necessary. Laptops can turn into bullets in an emergency, as the pockets in the seatbacks aren’t strong enough to hold them.

when it comes Cell phones need to be in airplane mode so they don’t interfere with in-flight devices, right? Well, it all depends on who we ask.

Air navigation and communications have been based on radio systems optimized to minimize interference since the 1920s. attribution The digital technology currently used is much more advanced. More than the old analog technologies used up to 60 years ago.

Research has shown that personal electronic devices can transmit signals in the same frequency band as aircraft communication and navigation systems. electromagnetic interference.

In 1992, however, the US Federal Aviation Authority and Boeing investigated whether electronic device use causes interference in airplanes in an independent study and found no problems with computers or other personal electronic devices during the non-flight phases. (takeoffs and landings are considered critical phases).

The US Federal Communications Commission has decided to create separate frequencies for different uses – mobile telephony, navigation, and aircraft communications – so they don’t interfere with each other. Governments around the world have developed the same strategies and policies to prevent interference. in the European Union, active electronic devices have been allowed since 2014.

So why did the aviation industry continue to ban the use of cell phones while these global regulations were in place? One of the problems lies in something unexpected: terrestrial interference.

Wireless networks are interconnected by a series of towers that can become overloaded if passengers flying over these networks use their phones at the same time. The number of passengers flying in 2021 was more than 2.2 billion (half the number of passengers in 2019).

On the other hand, a new wireless communication standard has been adopted in recent years. Existing 5G networks – desirable for higher data transfer rates – have caused concern in the aviation industry.

Radio frequencies have limited bandwidth, but attempts are still being made to add more devices. The aviation industry states that the 5G wireless network bandwidth spectrum is very close to the bandwidth spectrum reserved for aviation. causes interference with navigation systems helps the plane land.

Airport operators in Australia and the United States have expressed concerns about aviation security regarding the rollout of 5G, although the European Union appears to be rolling out smoothly. In any case, it seems prudent to limit cell phone use on airplanes while 5G related issues are resolved.

Today, most airline companies offer services to their customers. Free or paid Wi-Fi. With new Wi-Fi technologies, passengers could theoretically use their mobile phones to make video calls with friends or customers during the flight.

I spoke with a flight attendant on a trip recently and asked her opinion on using the phone during a flight. I confirm this it would be inconvenient for the cabin crew to have to wait for the passengers to finish their calls. to ask if they would like something to drink or eat. On a plane with more than 200 passengers, if everyone is on the phone, it will take much longer to complete the service on the plane.

For me, the issue of using an airplane phone has more to do with the social experience of having 200+ people talking on an airplane at the same time. In an age where disruptive passenger behavior, including aggression, is becoming more common, in-flight phone use can be another trigger that completely changes the flight experience.

Disruptive behavior takes many forms, from failure to comply with safety requirements such as not wearing a seat belt, to verbal arguments with other passengers and cabin crew, to physical arguments with the passengers and crew cabin, often described as air rage (air attack). aggression).

As a result, Phone use during flight does not currently affect the operation of the aircraft.. However, cabin crews prefer not to delay in providing in-flight service to all passengers: there are many people to take care of.

However, 5G technology affects the radio bandwidth of aircraft navigation systems; We need more research to understand how 5G interferes with aircraft navigation during landing. When we talk about the two most critical phases of flight, let’s remember that takeoffs are optional, but landings are mandatory.

*Doug Drury is Professor and Head of Aviation at CQ University in Australia.

*This article was published in The Conversation and reproduced under a Creative Commons license.

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