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www.wmfd.com - Airline passengers are used to being told to turn off electronic devices during flight, but exactly how much do these electronics interfere with the plane's system? }}" />

   
 
 
Testing Interference Of Electronic Devices During Flight

Story By: Larry Stine

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 10/6/2013 Airline passengers are used to being told to turn off electronic devices during flight. But exactly how much do these electronics interfere with the plane's system? Are they really dangerous? This month, a goverment industry group studying the subject will give its findings and recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration. The report may lead to looser rules on E-Readers and similar devices on airplanes. Rene Marsh tells us more. "Please turn off all cellular phones and other electronic devices." The FAA could decide to relax those restrictions. At Boeing's plant in Seattle, we asked the people who build the planes if it's dangerous to keep devices on during all phases of flight. "The emissions are being measured by this antenna here," says Boeing engineer Kenny Kirchoff. Inside Boeing's electro magnetic interference lab, engineers have been studying the issue for years, testing cell phones, laptops and tablets' impact on airplane systems. Kirchoff tested CNN's Rene Marsh's cell phone. "This phone is communicating with the cell tower," he says. "And these spokes show that it has failed." Its emissions crossed the threshold and cold interfere with systems like the plane's smoke alarm. Next test, a laptop. "Goes above the limit line," says Kirchoff. If failed, showing potential interference with the pilots' communications radios. A tablet in Wi-Fi mode also failed. But the same tablet in airplance mode tested safe. "It's not necessarily that a phone can bring down an airplane," says Kirchoff. "That's not really the issue. The issue is interfering with the airplane and causing more work for pilots during critical phases of flight." A recent survey found one in three passengers left their devices on because they forgot. Despite that, engineers say no electroinic device has ever taken down a plane. "New planes are being built knowing passengers are flying with electronics, and they want to use them. So planes like this one being designed with technology that can counter interference," says CNN's Rene Marsh. Kirchoff recommends devices not be used in-flight unless the airplane has been tested against every possible electronic device that could be used on board. And he says there's another problem. "You would be asking all of the flight attendants to monitor which devices are good and which devices can't be used and that, that's a heavy burden for flight attendants," says Kirchoff. A burden, he says, is impractical.
   
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