Why do we have to turn off electronic devices on planes?

Why do we have to turn off electronic devices on planes? The standard explanation given to travelers by various aviation authorities is that electronic devices interfere with the complex systems operation on planes. But is there actually any truth in this assertion, or is simply a ploy to keep the peace on flights?

Personal electronic devices are now more popular than ever. Most people never set foot outside of their home without a mobile phone or iPod, and business travelers probably wouldn’t dream of leaving for an overseas trip without their laptop and electronic organizer. Electronic devices are as essential to modern life as arrows were to Stone Age man.

But are any of these devices really detrimental to the operation of flight equipment and why do we have to turn off electronic devices on planes?

Whilst there is no conclusive evidence that modern electronic devices are capable of interfering with the complex electronic equipment on planes, there is always the outside chance that such a calamitous event could occur. The vague possibility that an electronic device could interfere with a flight, no matter how remote it might be, is enough to make authorities err on the side of caution and ban the use of such devices on planes.

Most modern planes have electronic systems that are designed to be shielded from outside digital interference. The more modern the plane, the more sophisticated these systems are. However, there are still a large number of planes in service that are more than twenty years old, which means their electronic systems are far more likely to be vulnerable to disruption by new devices and electronic gadgets.

Take off and landing are the two main sections of a flight where disaster is most likely to strike. At such times, the flight crew need no distractions whatsoever, and to avoid total disaster, all communications systems need to be functioning correctly. If a laptop or wireless device inadvertently causes a minor disruption in the navigation or communications systems, it could be catastrophic and no government wants to run the risk of a packed passenger flight being brought down due to interference from a mobile electronic device or WIFI enabled laptop.

Electronic devices on flights have also become synonymous in recent times with terrorist activity. Even though strict security measures are in place at airports, once a passenger has boarded a flight, they are free to access their phones and devices. Even though it would be impossible to prevent such devices being carried on to flights, by limiting their usage during the flight, at least the authorities can make it harder for terrorists to implement their dastardly plans.

The other main reason why aviation agencies prefer that we are required to turn off electronic devices on planes is because the vast majority of the time they are incredibly annoying to other passengers. Listening to other peoples’ music and phone conversations is bad enough at the best of times, but it would be ten times worse if you were stuck on a long haul flight for eighteen hours with the sound of that in your ear!

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