An orchestra of clicking seat belts, engines whirring and a plea repeated by every single pilot – that’s how the beginning of all air travels could be described in sounds. And if the first two are fully understandable, the third usually leaves us wondering. “Please set your portable electronic devices, including cell phones, to flight mode,” we hear every time we’re about to take off and ask ourselves – do this ‘O Lord our mighty of aviation’ has an actual cause? That’s the question Skycop passes to the aviation experts.
Flying can be truly challenging for real smartphone addicts. Except for the planes with Wi-Fi, high skies are one of the few places where you can’t scroll your social media, chat with friends or catch-up online with the last episode of the favorite TV show.
You can’t even call your mom to calm her down that you managed to get on board to the early flight, either. Associate Professor Darius Rudinskas, vice dean at the Antanas Gustaitis’ Aviation Institute of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University explained why.
You couldn’t make a call on the plane even if you wanted
“Modern aircraft are designed with high-tech components which are not sensitive to phone signals. But the percentage of that kind of planes in operation is small. Older aircraft are equipped with analog tech and your phone’s signal could interfere with these navigation instruments – and that is unsafe. The same goes for older digital equipment, too,” Mr. Rudinskas said.
But what about those who forget or are willing to forget to set their cellphones to flight mode? The aviation expert continued.
“When you make or receive a call, your phone tries to connect to the closest cell tower. As you move from one tower to another, your mobile call gets handed off from one to the next. But the antennas of these towers are pointed to the ground, so as you fly higher, the signal gets weaker before it finally disappears. So, without additional gear, there is not even a technical possibility to call from the skies. However, the cellphone would still try to connect to the tower, interfering with plane’s components and making that buzzing sound in the pilot’s headsets. If there are few active devices on board, that’s manageable, but imagine what would happen with a few hundred cells,” Mr. Rudinskas said.
Would we ever be able to chat in the skies? Probably, not
You may have heard rumors that airlines ban using mobiles in the skies because they try to prevent people from babbling in a closed environment. Ask yourself – wouldn’t it be annoying on a 10-hour flight? According to the aviation expert, it’s more than a theory.
“On the one hand, a flight is based on mass control. If you ban something, people are more disciplined. Despite the fact that flying is one of the safest ways to travel, it’s still a bit extreme. So, all the restrictions ensure that our journeys are as safe as possible. Say there was an announcement to fasten the seatbelts because of turbulence, but everyone was chatting on their phones. The ban makes the crew duties easier,” Mr. Rudinskas explained.
Professor added to Skycop: “Some airlines offer Wi-Fi connection during the flight because this signal is 20 times weaker than the cellphone’s. To install a router is easier as the signal comes from a satellite and doesn’t cause problems in the cockpit.
“So I doubt that it will be possible to use mobiles on board in the nearest future. Even if the equipment will allow to make calls, the airlines will still try to avoid people chattering on the plane.”
Therefore, you should make all the calls before stepping on the aircraft – or wait till you land. But save calling airlines names if your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked. Instead, file a claim to Skycop and turn your disrupted flight into compensation up to €600. Wouldn’t it be great to cover dozens of your phone bills with that money?