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Home > Air Travel > Turn off the Phone
Turn off the Phone
Flying - Air Travel
Friday, 27 April 2012 03:18

Phones In Flight
Good day to you Captain,

I always read your article during my flight with Air Asia. I really enjoy reading it.

I'm frequent traveller due to my working schedule. Recently, I notice a trend that many of the passengers in flight are not turning off their smart phone or tablet during the take-off and landing. Is quite annoying to see that because the cabin crew had to make announcement to turn the digital device off during these period but most of the passengers tend to ignore it. Sometimes the cabin crew do ignore it as well when they see the passenger using it. So I assume it is safe.

The question I wish to ask is, what will really happen and what the problem is if a passenger didn't turn off their digital devices during take-off and landing.

Thanks a lot.

Best Regards,

Titan Ng

Hi Titan,

I reproduce a partial article on a similar subject written in the in-flight magazine previously. The title is “Mile High Chat”. Hope it shed some light on your query.

Switch Off the Cell Phone

Many airlines prohibit the use of cell phones at all times while on board the plane because they fall under the category of devices that transmit electronic signals in flight. If you think it is harmless, think again! If you have ever received a call on your cell phone whilst driving in your car with the radio on, you would most likely hear the static just as the phone rings.

Such electronic signals can jeopardize a flight by interfering with onboard functions. Imagine a situation where the captain is about to perform an auto landing guided by computers in difficult weather conditions. What would happen if there was a momentary loss of signal on the guidance system say, below 200 feet above the runway? This unfortunate scenario may trigger a red AUTOLAND warning light, which means that the pilot must abort the landing, as it is a warning that it is dangerous to continue.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the use of the cell phone would always lead to serious consequences. Incidents can happen when there is a combination of many unknown factors that can interfere with the electronic system in the plane.

I wrote in an earlier article, Handphone Danger, in the April 2008 issue of Travel 3Sixty and suggested chatterboxes to be patient as, “talking to their friends from the aircraft cabin would soon be a reality”. Indeed it has now come to pass. Today, passengers can use their mobile phones while onboard selected AirAsia flights that are equipped with the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) onboard system.

Maxis customers in Malaysia will now be able to use this new service to make and receive calls. They will be able to send and receive text messages, as well as access the Internet through GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) on their Smartphones.

At present, AirAsia has already equipped five aircraft from its fleet of 85 Airbus A320s with the GSM onboard system and will soon gradually equip its entire Malaysian A320 fleet.

Is My Flight GSM System Enabled?

To find out if you are flying in an aircraft equipped with the GSM system, simply look for the sign of a cell phone beside the ‘No Smoking Sign’ in front of you on the cabin ceiling. The signage with the ‘X’ over the cell phone, when lit, indicates that the GSM onboard system cannot be used. Additionally, as soon as the seatbelt sign is off, the flight attendant will notify passengers if it is permissible to use the OnAir GSM onboard, usually once having passed the 10,000 feet mark.

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

Cell Phones on Planes


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Airplane Mode?
I've always wondered about this. What about airplane mode for smartphones? I like to use my iPhone as an MP3 player so is it safe to do so as long as I have it in airplane mode?
Taylor , 11 May, 2012

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