Cell phone use on planes has been heavily debated as the airline industry attempts to keep up with ever-changing technology. It’s standard practice to be told by flight attendants to switch devices to airplane mode during transit; but what happens if you don’t follow directions? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that clear.
Let’s start with some of the initial research. The reason for potential safety concerns is due to the fact that when you’re more than 10,000 feet in the air, your cell phone signal bounces off multiple towers and sends out a stronger signal. This is something that might congest the networks on the ground. But, there has never been a case of a cell phone causing a plane to crash.
“It’s not necessarily that a phone can bring down an airplane,” former Boeing engineer Kenny Kirchoff has said. “That’s not really the issue. The issue is interfering with the airplane and causing more work for the pilots during critical phases of flight. When they take off and when they land, those are phases of flight that require a high level of concentration by the pilots.”
But, with the advancement of modern technology these risks are becoming more obsolete. In fact, in 2014 the European Aviation Safety Agency (Europe’s version of the FAA) said that electronic devices pose no safety risk, although it was up to the airline to prove their systems were not affected by the signals of cell phones.