As the plane door closes you hear the familiar call from the cabin stewardess “please turn off all personal electronic devices. ”There are always one or two passengers who are striving to get that last sentence out as they text or listen as they explain to their colleague or loved one where they are or some other dying love declaration before attendants harshly declare that’s it all devices must be off.
It is a very grey area as to why these mobile phones and other devices now too many to mention are required to be turned off or put on flight mode if they have one. A couple of mates who are big time pilots tell me they use their mobiles or iPads from the flight deck all the time and there is not a safety concern. Try and get someone to explain it to you and I bet they have some difficulty.
The American Federal Aviation Administration allows pilots to use IPads and other electronic devises to replace charts and manuals in the cockpit during takeoff and landing but they say they can’t test all the electronic gadgets passengers may bring on board. The concern is that a multitude of devices could pose a danger.
It is very common on most flights these days that at least one passenger takes offence at being asked to switch off their devices and keeps on texting, tweeting, playing or emailing and ignore many calls to power down.
Occasionally a confrontation occurs like the case of actor Alec Baldwin removal from an AA flight last December. Airlines say they don’t keep track of people removed from planes for flaunting these rules. Attendants say it is the number one cause of unruly behavior. “Most passenger misconduct cases now result from non compliance with electronic devices” said a spokesperson for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants in the US.
Airline rules backed by federal laws allow crews to turn back to the gate and remove passengers to prevent disputes in the air. Flight attendants at American Airlines reported more than 1300 incidents of misconduct to their union in 2011 up slightly from 1250 in 2010 with the majority of increases related to electronic devices.
A number of airlines are geared to provide wifi services in flight. Emirates and Ethiad have planes in service for this connectivity. Australia’s Qantas has started an eight week trial of internet access for premium passengers flying in the A380’s
A 2006 report the latest available explained the Regulators believe there is a chance that electronic emissions from devices could interfere with navigation instruments and even if the remotest possibility of a disasters it’s better to ban them for take off and landing. This perception has slowly changed although in the meantime we must follow the instructions of our flight attendants.
Written by : John Savage