There was a day and a time when these rules made sense. It was not that long ago that consumer electronics use to give off a ton of EM interference. I use to have an old Nokia brick phone that gave off enough interference that you could hear it connecting to the cell towers on any nearby amplifier within 30 feet.
But that was over 10 years ago. Modern equipment no longer uses analogue transmission for anything. Everything is digital, on very specific frequencies, and at much lower power than they use to be.
Even if all 100 people were all streaming netflix and making phone calls at the same time, then so what? That is like saying that you cannot see what is in front of you because the IR or UV rays of the sun are too bright. Other than possible physical damage, the amount of it hitting your eyes will have no affect on what you see because your eyes are incapable of seeing those frequencies. Similarly, airlines are not using the same frequencies, or communication protocolls, as what consumer equipment is using. The argument is like saying that you cannot hear what someone is saying because there is a bright light in another room. Or that you are having trouble "smelling the color 9" because "colorless green is sleeping furiously". It is just nonsense that has nothing to do with eachother! Even if the same bandwidth was used the sheer amplitude at which towers and planes can communicate should be more than capable of shouting down the other electronics.
Or put another way; If airlines are using equipment that is so easily interfered with by consumer electronics then the FAA and FCC should be held responsible for making and implementing standards so that this is not a problem. There is always going to be a prick that leaves their devices on out of spite, or someone so jetlagged and clueless that they forget. So lets make sure that standards are set so that this is a non-issue.
However, I do understand the need to at least put down devices (and books) during the safety speech for liability reasons, as well as the need to stow all items upon decent because in a crash a cell phone (or anything really) is just a large bullet and could kill someone who would have otherwise survived. Those are legit reasons, but outside of that then it should be free reign.
I doubt people would want to talk long on a cell phone while in the air.
Unless cell phones and cell towers have gotten really good at switching to different towers when needed to keep a call connected and not have any interruptions in that call, I would imagine that any calling would be kept short.
Mainly I say this because for how fast planes fly, (Boeing 747 cruses at 570 MPH), and cell phone towers have a max range of 20 to 30 miles (assuming from tower to edge).... In just a few short mins, a Boeing 747 plane could get though a 20 mile max range tower in under 4 mins.
Assuming the Plane goes from one edge of the 20 mile max towers range to the other edge perfectly, giving 40 miles of theoretical coverage, and is traveling at 570 MPH which converts to about 9.5 Miles per Minute, (that's hoping your cell phone is good enough to pick of the tower 20 miles way) I think the estimation of under 4 mins is right but I could be wrong on..
Basicly, unless it's a short message, I think people would get annoyed on having to redial a number multiple times to keep a long conversation. (Assuming a cell still drops called when switching towers like they did in the past.)
@warmon6 I think cell towers are generally designed to communicate with devices at a lower elevation (thus why they generally put the tower on a hill), and thus using the cell network while in a phone won't work at all. (except at lower elevations) I've tried briefly taking my phone out of airplane mode on a plane, and didn't get any signal. (don't worry, I didn't leave it in that mode) I have picked up FM radio signals on planes at cruising altitude though.
The problem with talking on a cell phone in the air is three fold. 1) The towers transmit basically horizontally with a downward tilt. Very little of the signal transmits vertically. Thus very little signal gets to a plane 30K in the air. 2) Planes do not travel via typical land routes that have a high concentration of towers. Thus, most of the time in the air there is not a tower anywhere around. 3) It is just down right rude to talk on a cell phone in such close quarters.
As for all the other stuff, it makes ZERO sense that a tiny iPod will interfere with anything in the plane when I there is massive current flowing all around me. There are buttons above me. There is a TV in my seat, the seat in front of me and every other seat in the plane.... oh but those things are not a problem. Give me a break! If a plane was so fragile that its instruments could be fouled up from a little hand held device they would be worthless. There are MASSIVE EM signals all around. The biggest one is call the Sun.
I can understand that i have to turn of my cell in the plane (its actually a good excuse to get some peace), but my mp3 player or my laptop with no wi-fi on?
Well i can understand the laptop, i mean, we are landing after all, and if anythign goes wrong it could hurt someone.
But my mp3?... Actually i asked a few times in the plane telling the steward that i was a fraid of flying and she let me use it np. But its weird that i have to say that at all.
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Seems like everyone is ignoring basic physics/science. The plane and tower transmit and receive on completely different frequencies. These frequencies are restricted to aircraft only and are so far way from cellular frequencies that one would need a good 1,000 watts of transmission power in their cell phone and need to be standing next to the aircraft antenna.
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