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I find myself getting resentful every time I have to switch off my phone, whether it’s at the movies, during an important meeting, or when I board a plane. I guess I’m just a true-blue millennial that way. Usually, my solution is to just ignore the rules and keep my cell on vibrate, but it turns out, at least some of the time, these rules are in place for good reason.
A former airline pilot and Reddit user by the name of BoilerUp218 recently laid out all the reasons passengers are asked to switch their phones to airplane mode upon takeoff, and his explanation has finally convinced me to fall in line.
According to his Reddit post, cell phones have the potential to cause minor deflection on navigational equipment, and that issue is most risky when landing. I’ve heard that explanation before, but never really took it to heart, so it’s nice to get confirmation from a real pilot. However, there are other potential issues as well. Cell phones can also interfere with the pilots’ radios. BoilerUp218 wrote, “Hearing the cell phone clicks over the headphones could cause the pilots to miss valuable instructions from air traffic control, which could lead to you flying into a mountain or another airplane.” Well, that’s scary.
What’s most important in the pilot’s post is his description of scale. “Sure, one person may leave their cell phone on for a flight in good weather conditions, but if you had 150 cell phones on during a flight, the navigational error may be larger,” he explained. On good weather days, it matters less because pilots’ “approaches are done visually,” but bad weather makes the stakes a lot higher. So, all in all, it looks like the best idea is to play it safe and take a break from technology while you’re in the air.
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