In-flight electronics in the “on” position

Recognize this? “In preparation for takeoff, please turn off all personal electronic devices.” 

For the nerds among us, the flight attendant might as well be asking us to disconnect our cerebellums.

Is it really necessary? After all, considering the number of people who ignore the announcements, we figure there’s got to be at least a few people on each flight who accidentally  (or “accidentally”) leave their electronics “in the on position.”

We’re not the first to ask. According to CBS Minnesota:

Surprisingly, the ban on personal electronic devices (PEDs) is not mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

There have been several cases where pilots or investigators thought something went wrong because of a cell phone or laptop computer being left on, but investigators have never been able to recreate the problem.

Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on hearsay; our CTO, Steve Huffman, is actually a licensed private pilot! And, he’s accidentally flown with his cellphone still on. Here’s what he says:

The problem with having your cellphone on in the cockpit is that it makes that annoying “chirping” sound in your headset, like when you hold your cellphone near a speaker or microphone. It’s never caused me to miss any important communication with ground, but it’s definitely an annoyance.

When I was flying with my flight instructor, and we heard that chirping, we’d just throw our cellphones into the back seat of the plane—just a few feet behind us—and the chirping would disappear.

So there you have it: real evidence of cellphones interfering with pilot communication, but nothing that a few feet’s distance can’t cure—at least in a tiny plane. Maybe someday Steve will get his A380 certification, and we can repeat this experiment on a bigger scale.

What about you—have you ever forgotten or “forgotten” to turn off your electronics?