Why I find all the studies about mobile phones jamming flight navigations stupid

After reading this little blurb from textually, I decided to comment on this topic that has been on my mind for quite some time now.
There are studies after studies done to show how mobile phones interfere with flight navigation and controls. What I don’t understand is:
If mobile phones interfere with flight navigations, then why are they allowed at the airport?


The reasoning behind it is simple. If your cellular phone is producing cellular waves that supposedly interfere with flight controls and navigations, then anyone else’s cellular waves would be interfering also. That would mean that anyone within a two to three mile radius of the cell-tower at the airport should be effected. So maintaining a call in the air should not be any different from a call from the ground.
The other reasoning is that the largest fear from the FAA is during take-off and landing. But those waves don’t suddenly disappear when everyone on that plane turns off their phone. They exist all around us as long as you’re in this great thing called cellular coverage. If so, then wouldn’t these waves also effect navigation and controls?
Without getting into pure technical details, this is the very simplistic way of viewing it. Even as planes land, you can take or make a call, but would that not effect the airstrip right next to the landing strip that is for takeoffs?
It’s amazing just thinking this through wih a bit of common sense can show that there is no grounds for the FAA to make this assumption. Either ban all cellular traffic in airports, or allow them and create a rule for no phones on planes just because you don’t want them there. Putting this off on flight navigation and control disruption is similar to movie plot antics.

  • Lux,
    As a pilot, but not an expert in electromagnetic waves, I’ll wager a guess into the reasoning of the cell phone ban in “critical phases of flight.”
    When landing in “instrument conditions” an airliner must ride a radio signal down an angled path right down to the runway, known as ILS. In the worst weather conditions, the airliner must rely on that radio signal to bring the plane within 100 feet of the ground before the pilots can actually see the runway.
    The antennae for those instruments are rather near where some guy might be telling his wife that he’ll be on the ground in just a second. The waves from that cell *could* interfere with the ILS signal. I say could to mean that if it happens once every thousand times, you have to multiply that by the thousands of instrument approaches made every year. If just one disrupts the signal, a plane could be sent dangerously off course and crash. Some devices are more “noisy” in an EM sense, and I suspect that old-style analog phones were more disruptive. I also know that commercial TV cameras are particularly disruptive. Whether today’s phones are less likely to interfere, I don’t know, but it only takes one guy on analog roam or with an old bag phone to ruin an airline’s day.
    I would also guess that a cell phone on the ground or a cell tower isn’t close enough to the airliner’s anntenae to disrupt the ILS.
    It all comes down to percentages. An amazingly small percentage of airline trips result in an accident. Probably a similarly small percentages of cell phones would disrupt airplane instruments. But with safety such a big issue, you’ve got to be careful.

  • Lux,
    As a pilot, but not an expert in electromagnetic waves, I’ll wager a guess into the reasoning of the cell phone ban in “critical phases of flight.”
    When landing in “instrument conditions” an airliner must ride a radio signal down an angled path right down to the runway, known as ILS. In the worst weather conditions, the airliner must rely on that radio signal to bring the plane within 100 feet of the ground before the pilots can actually see the runway.
    The antennae for those instruments are rather near where some guy might be telling his wife that he’ll be on the ground in just a second. The waves from that cell *could* interfere with the ILS signal. I say could to mean that if it happens once every thousand times, you have to multiply that by the thousands of instrument approaches made every year. If just one disrupts the signal, a plane could be sent dangerously off course and crash. Some devices are more “noisy” in an EM sense, and I suspect that old-style analog phones were more disruptive. I also know that commercial TV cameras are particularly disruptive. Whether today’s phones are less likely to interfere, I don’t know, but it only takes one guy on analog roam or with an old bag phone to ruin an airline’s day.
    I would also guess that a cell phone on the ground or a cell tower isn’t close enough to the airliner’s anntenae to disrupt the ILS.
    It all comes down to percentages. An amazingly small percentage of airline trips result in an accident. Probably a similarly small percentages of cell phones would disrupt airplane instruments. But with safety such a big issue, you’ve got to be careful.

  • My point is … it’s not a matter of safety. It’s been played out to be a safety issue, but no one can prove it otherwise. If it was a safety issue, they wouldn’t allow you to make the call on the ground. EM from a cellular device wouldn’t even penetrate past the next row, much less the antenna for the ILS.
    Also, flight antennas tx/rx on totally different spectrums that are not even neighboring to cellular bands. So there is no way for bleeding of spectrum.
    The old analog phones had a lot of power, which could probably bleed EM if that is the case. But newer phones don’t have the power behind it, even if it did go onto analog roam. Has nothing to do with the analog mode itself.
    I agree with the once in a thousand years thing… IF it could happen. But that’s also like having an FM station bleed into an AM station. It’s not possible due to wavelength and frequency. It’s a matter of physics, not statistics.

  • darkmoon

    My point is … it’s not a matter of safety. It’s been played out to be a safety issue, but no one can prove it otherwise. If it was a safety issue, they wouldn’t allow you to make the call on the ground. EM from a cellular device wouldn’t even penetrate past the next row, much less the antenna for the ILS.
    Also, flight antennas tx/rx on totally different spectrums that are not even neighboring to cellular bands. So there is no way for bleeding of spectrum.
    The old analog phones had a lot of power, which could probably bleed EM if that is the case. But newer phones don’t have the power behind it, even if it did go onto analog roam. Has nothing to do with the analog mode itself.
    I agree with the once in a thousand years thing… IF it could happen. But that’s also like having an FM station bleed into an AM station. It’s not possible due to wavelength and frequency. It’s a matter of physics, not statistics.

  • Granted, this is a “worst case scenario” test, but Britian’s Civil Aviation Authority performed a test that demonstrated interference from a cell phone:
    Effects of Interference from Cellular Telephones
    on Aircraft Avionic Equipment
    You might say they “rigged” the test by putting the phone so close to the avionics, but in a small plane, someone in the front lavatory would be inches away from the equipment they’re talking about.

  • Granted, this is a “worst case scenario” test, but Britian’s Civil Aviation Authority performed a test that demonstrated interference from a cell phone:
    Effects of Interference from Cellular Telephones
    on Aircraft Avionic Equipment
    You might say they “rigged” the test by putting the phone so close to the avionics, but in a small plane, someone in the front lavatory would be inches away from the equipment they’re talking about.

  • That test is driven for Europe standards which are different but even so, the tests did include the GSM bands that are in US and received standard results. CDMA operates on 800 and 1.9Ghz and was not tested.
    Tell you the truth, I would rather people didn’t talk on the plane on their cells. But if worst case scenario was indeed the concern, I don’t see why the equipment isn’t shielded from EM.
    I’m also pretty sure that you can’t visit the lavatory on take-off or landing. ^_^

  • darkmoon

    That test is driven for Europe standards which are different but even so, the tests did include the GSM bands that are in US and received standard results. CDMA operates on 800 and 1.9Ghz and was not tested.
    Tell you the truth, I would rather people didn’t talk on the plane on their cells. But if worst case scenario was indeed the concern, I don’t see why the equipment isn’t shielded from EM.
    I’m also pretty sure that you can’t visit the lavatory on take-off or landing. ^_^

  • Mobile phone inteference with flight navigations? More like human error

    In Jakarta, apparently an aircraft descended on a deserted airport instead of landing at the correct one miles from where they landed. The Jakarta Post described it as an incidence blamed on someone on a cellular phone that interfered with…

  • Mobile phone inteference with flight navigations? More like human error

    In Jakarta, apparently an aircraft descended on a deserted airport instead of landing at the correct one miles from where they landed. The Jakarta Post described it as an incidence blamed on someone on a cellular phone that interfered with…