I understand from discussions such as these, that it is crucial that to avoid electronic interference with flight instruments, all electronic devices should be shut off during takeoff and landing. And yet, in my experience, there are always rebels getting away with brazenly keeping their instruments on.

My question is, given the critical nature of possible interference (tiny probability but catastrophic consequences), why aren't airlines looking at more stringent measures than a routine announcement/request by the pilot? For example manual checks, frisking?

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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly @fooot link refers further to Are personal electronics a risk to commercial aviation?. Note that cell phones were not forbidden by FAA (in the US) but by FCC, and I believe it's to protect the ground network cells, not the aircraft. It is not possible to stay connected to a cell, the cell phone will keep contacting cells one after the other without disconnecting correctly, due to the cell size (some km) and the aircraft speed. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


There are some problems with this as electronic equipment are not banned in aircraft per se, but only during some (critical) phases of flight.

  • First, how to determine if someone is operating electronic instruments. It'll be difficult, considering that everyone is seated. The only way is to put a lot of cameras (who's going to monitor them?) or by asking everyone to check their fellow passengers, hardly a good option.

  • Even if someone operating an electronic equipment is detected, what to do? During takeoff and landing, seat belts are mandatory and the only option (except announcing the seat number over PA) is to ask the person in nearby seat to snatch the offending equipment; again not a good solution.

As most of the electronic equipment (like camera or music players) emit little radiation and no air crash has been attributed to use of electronic devices, I doubt airlines will do something to physically to prevent passengers from using electronics.

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    $\begingroup$ There is a huge difference between cameras and music players and devices which intentionally radiate RF. They cannot be compared. A friend of mine is an avonics trainer for my regional airline and he confirms that mobile phones do interfere, mostly with the audio systems. Pilots have reported "missing the odd clearance" which is not a big deal. However, who wants to take the risk even with this? "Fast plane 297, immediate avoiding action, <crack fizz pop burble burble> turn". Responded with "station calling, say again, left or righ.....bang". $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 19:02

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