Tatyana Deryugina (Twitter: @TDeryugina)

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Electronics on planes

Posted 29 Jan 11 by Tatyana

Seriously, what is it with turning off electronic devices when planes are taking off? My three guesses (ordered from least to most likely) were (a) it’s an old rule left over from when plane equipment and electronics did not get along (I’d read that somewhere before), (b) it’s a rule meant to prevent people from being distracted when the plane is taking off and landing, as those are the high-risk times, and (c) there’s some chance that the plane’s communication systems will be negatively affected if everyone is talking on their phones AND reading their Kindle while the plane is taking off.

Funnily enough, when I started researching this, I found this New York Timesarticle that came out only a few weeks ago. The Federal Communication Commission was also worried about cell phones in the air interfering with ground cellular networks. The bottom line is: there seems to be not much evidence for electronic devices interfering with planes’ communication systems, but there is the theoretical possibility coupled with the fact that things would not be pretty if a plane went down because of people’s iPhones. Maybe if no one turned their cell phones off, we’d be in trouble? It seems like there’s more justification for this rule than for (a) believing that cell phones cause cancer, (b) using full body scanners in airports and (c) believing that Obama was not born in this country.

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