July 9, 2016

This Is What Happens When You Don’t Switch Your Phone To Airplane Mode While Flying

When you fly, the minute you’re on board, you make sure your phone is on airplane mode. And it’s a standard practice to be told by flight attendants to switch your devices to airplane mode during transit. But, have you ever wondered what would happen if you don’t follow directions and didn’t put your phone on flight mode when you’re up in the air?

Many people believe that a phone’s signal can interfere with a plane’s electrical and telecommunication systems and cause a plane to crash. Is it true? Let’s find out what exactly happens when passengers or crew don’t switch their phones to Airplane mode during a flight!

There is no evidence that signals from passengers’ electronic devices have ever caused a plane to malfunction and crash. 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.

Man sitting on an airplane holding smartphone

In a blog post for Airline Updates, a pilot said that transmitting mobiles can cause audible interference on an aircraft’s radios, but it is rare. He said: “Your phone will probably annoy a few pilots and air traffic controllers.  But, most likely, not badly enough for them to take action against you if that’s what you want to know.”

“You may have heard that unpleasant noise from an audio system that occasionally happens when a mobile phone is nearby. I actually heard such noise on the radio while flying. It is not safety critical, but is annoying for sure.”

YouTube video

However, he also continues by saying that if 50 people on the plane did not turn their phone onto airplane mode, it would cause a lot of “radio pollution“.

What Happens When You Don't Switch Your Phone To Airplane Mode While Flying (2)

An engineer named ‘Coenraad Loubser’ said on Quora: “To compound matters, the weaker the signal your cell phone picks up from the tower, the more it amplifies its signal to try and get a response (and the more battery it uses). Planes with onboard cell coverage, allow your phone to communicate using very low power, or Wi-Fi. When you put your phone in Airplane mode, the GSM/3G Radio inside your phone is completely disabled and you can still use the phone for other functions.”

Now, you know the reason! Hence, by switching your phone to airplane mode, you show your appreciation to the people charged with getting you safely to your destination.

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