Do Cell Phones Make Flying Unsafe?

If you’ve ever been on a plane, you’ve no doubt heard the instructions to turn off your cell phone before taking flight. This is something most people are familiar with, and most people, when boarding a flight, make sure to turn their phones off. But do you know WHY it’s important to turn phones off during a flight?

There are some crazy rumors out there. Some people believe that a cell phone’s frequency can mess up the controls of an aircraft. Some even believe that this interference can cause a plane to crash.

Are these claims accurate? Or are they completely unfounded? Why do we need to turn our phones off during a flight?

NASA did a study on this topic recently and could not find any incidents of planes crashing as a result of cell phone interference. Case closed, right? Not exactly. Though it’s never been proven that cell phones can crash a plane, some people still believe it is possible. This includes some pilots. Also, some pilots will tell you that cell phones do cause interference, just not of the deadly kind. I once spoke to a pilot and he said that he could often hear cell phone conversations coming across his radio. You talk on your phone on a plane, and the conversation could get transmitted onto the same frequency that airline is using. So while your phone isn’t causing any mechanical problems, the pilot could be hearing your voice while he’s trying to navigate the skies. I’m not pilot, but I imagine it must be tougher to fly a plane when you’re listening to two people talk about their children’s soccer game, or discuss the latest Powerpoint presentation. It’s an added distraction in an already difficult job.

There are other more obvious reasons that airlines want you to turn off your cell phone before takeoff. One is so that you’ll pay attention to the potentially life-saving instructions given out by the flight attendants. Sure, the odds that you’ll need to use that inflatable life vest are slim, but that doesn’t mean the pilot wants you chatting while the flight attendant is showing you how it works.

Another reason is that you’re probably annoying. Don’t take offense; most people are annoying when they’re on their cell phones. When you’re in such close proximity with others as you would be on a plane, there’s no real way to talk on your cell phone respectfully. It’s not like your call is an emergency, and even if it is, what can you do about it? You can’t ask the plane to hurry up or turn around. So if you’re annoying, and you don’t need to be on the phone, airlines prefer that you aren’t. People want to relax on a plane, they don’t want to hear your Cellular One ringtones going off every ten minutes.

Finally, although there’s no evidence that cell phones cause crashes, there’s also no definitive evidence that they’re totally safe. The airline industry is already unsafe enough, so why add another risk?

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