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Aeroplane mode isn't actually because your signal will interfere with flight

Emma Guinness

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Aeroplane mode isn't actually because your signal will interfere with flight

Featured Image Credit: Kritchanut Onmang/Alamy Alla Hryhorieva / Alamy

If you've been anywhere near a plane in the modern era, you'll know that it's standard practice to put your phone and other electronic devices on flight mode by selecting some variation of a plane symbol.

While this was typically thought to be because phone signals interfered with the plane's equipment, it turns out that it's done for a completely different reason.

And yes, our minds are as blown as yours.

You have to keep your phone on flight mode, but not for the reason you might think. Credit: Alamy / MIHAI ANDRITOIU
You have to keep your phone on flight mode, but not for the reason you might think. Credit: Alamy / MIHAI ANDRITOIU

After all, most of us could probably recite the standard in-flight advice word-for-word: "Please ensure your seats are in the upright position, tray tables stowed, window shades are up, laptops are stored in the overhead bins and electronic devices are set to flight mode."

The fact that each of these actions is done for the greater good of the plane again suggests that phones need to be on flight mode for everyone's safety.

While this is partially true, it's got nothing to do with the plane's equipment.

Passengers are always told to put their devices on flight mode. Credit: Alamy / Techa Tungateja
Passengers are always told to put their devices on flight mode. Credit: Alamy / Techa Tungateja

This is because, while mobile technology has come on leaps and bounds over the years, the radio systems on planes have largely remained the same since the 1920s, the Conversation reports.

And what's more is that a study conducted by the US Federal Aviation Authority back in 1992 found that phone signals had no effect on plane's equipment during take off and landing.

However, it turns out that there is still an important reason for turning your devices off during a flight and that's ground interference.

This issue has also worsened with the prevalence of 5G technology, which has a very similar bandwidth to that of the reserved aviation bandwidth spectrum.

Therefore, if people were to keep their phones on, it could potentially lead to problems during take off and landing.

But there's also a practical reason for people not being able to make calls from an aeroplane, and that's enabling the staff to do their jobs.

If large numbers of people were on the phone, it could make it a lot harder to serve in-flight meals and other services.

Switching to aeroplane mode also helps the cabin crew. Credit: Alamy / David Gee 4
Switching to aeroplane mode also helps the cabin crew. Credit: Alamy / David Gee 4

So, in a nutshell, you need to keep your phone on flight mode not because it has any effect on the operation of the plane, but because it could cause trouble with networks on the ground.

And, according to Live Science, it's also backed up by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who introduced the ban on mobile devices in 1991 that remains in place until this day.

The more you know!

Topics: News, Technology

Emma Guinness
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