IATA: this iPad could BRING DOWN A PLANE
Other gadgets dangerous too, aircrew think
For as long as the world has had portable electronic devices, the mass debate has continued: does our tech pose a threat to flight safety?
With a greater number of services offering in-flight phone calls, the doubters appeared to have the upper hand. However, a new report claims our electronic gizmos could be hazardous after all.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), no less, has detailed 75 incidents of "electronic interference" in flight systems which pilots and/or crew believed to result from portable electronic devices.
These were based on responses submitted to IATA from 125 airlines between 2003 and 2009.
Of those 75 incidents, 26 centred on interference with flight controls, the autopilot, auto-thrust equipment and landing gear. Seventeen involved communications kit, while 13 resulted in false electronic warnings.
IATA admitted it hasn't actually verified that any of these were caused by electronic devices, instead highlighting that crew members thought they were.
Is watching cartoons on an iPad during a flight dangerous?
In one instance, while two laptops were being used nearby, a clock spun backwards and GPS readings started going off. Another example tells of how altitude details went haywire until passengers were asked to switch off their devices.
Dave Carson, a Boeing advisor, reckons portable devices radiate signals that can disrupt electronic sensors hidden in a plane's passenger area, ABC News reports.
Engineers demonstrated how hidden signals from electronic devices were far above those which Boeing considers acceptable for aircraft use. The worst offender for those signals was an iPad, although Blackberrys and iPhones also sit well over the limit, it's claimed.
Newer planes with correct sheathing shouldn't be affected, but older models could remain a problem. In those cases, according to Carson, mobile phones are a genuine safety hazard.
But 75 incidents over a six-year period is far from convincing statistics. As these airlines represent roughly a quarter of the world's carriers, for arguments sake, let's call it 300 incidents in total, or 50 each year.
With hundreds of flights taking off every day, do such reports cause enough scare to turn your phone off on a flight? If so, don't get on a plane with me. ®
"do such reports cause enough scare to turn your phone off on a flight? If so, don't get on a plane with me."
Frankly, if you're saying you disobey the directions of airline employees whilst on an aircraft - even if your patent omniscience lets _you_ know they are obviously wrong - they I hope you are removed from it, and banned until you can understand that what you do may effect others. I don't know whether the electronics effect the flight systems to such an extent they become dangerous in all these cases - although the findings from at least one test you mention seem to indicate they can in some circumstances - but neither do you.. and that's rather the point.
A number of years in air-freight and the international courier business - plus a ICAO hazardous goods certification (lapsed) - have reinforced the (hopefully) rather obvious observation that not everything that everybody thinks are safe on aircraft actually are...perhaps a similar realization in the matter of EMI and flight systems, until proven otherwise, could help your hubris.
If you honestly can't cope in life without your phone constantly operating, then you have my pity, but not my understanding.
Typical of the modern world, the uninformed opinion of trolley dollies is more important than that of trained engineers.
Clock spun backwards and GPS disrupted?
I think it's more likely they were flying over the island from Lost.
Oh fer Christ's sake, it's very simple:
a) there's a signifcant risk - in which case Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers can (at the behest of national aviation authorities, if need be) conduct in-lab tests using a sample set of devices to determine what, if any, interference is caused and how to deal with it, and the nature of the interference will determine the nature of the solution, or
b) there's no significant risk, in which case shut the hell up and leave me alone when I'm listening to my mp3 player/using my EEE/whatever.
In either case, relying on the opinions of a bunch of non-technically-trained in-flight staff who've already got a tough job placating a large herd of humans in an enclosed and cramped space is pretty much guaranteed to get you nowhere. What proportion of flight crew staff do you reckon could tell you what the operating frequency for 802.11b wireless signals is, much less what aircraft equipment is likely to experience problems due to the presence of said signals?
I'm all for caution in the face of unknowns, but given how many laptop-bearing people we punt around the sky on a daily basis in giant metal cigars with wings, it's way past time that someone actually undertook some definitive research to answer the bloody question. It would greatly improve the likelihood of success if this someone were an actual scientist with a background in electronics.
"Swiss Cheese" model
Aircraft safety is managed through a "Swiss Cheese" model. You accept that every layer of safety, however carefully implemented, will have holes in it, like a slice of Swiss cheese. You can't catch them all, so you add layer after layer, making the cheese thicker, to minimise the chance of any of the holes going right through.
There are procedures in place to minimise the use of mobile phones (one layer), systems to (hopefully) shield the aircraft systems from the mobile phones (another layer), backup procedures in case an aircraft system fails (another layer) and so on. Removing one layer will not necessarily cause a disaster - it just eats into the safety margin. However, if one of the other layers is already compromised (a tired technician forgot to secure some shielding, or a sleepy pilot didn't respond to an alarm), then you've got the makings of an accident.