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What happens if you don’t switch your smartphone to airplane mode during flight

Written by kasangaki Daniel

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Here is what really happens if you don’t put your smartphone into flight mode/airplane mode when flying


You may have traveled a lot by air and may have been told and warned to switch your smartphone to flight mode or airplane mode. Have you ever wondered why you are asked by the flight attendants on board to switch your devices to airplane mode during transit? Did you ever imagine what would happen if you didn’t put your smartphone on airplane mode when you are up in the air?

Most of us may feel it is unnecessary to switch to airplane mode during flight. Some of us even feel that doing so is a waste of time as it achieves nothing as it doesn’t interfere with plane’s electrical and telecommunication systems and is not a matter of life and death, some think it can cause occasional disturbance not leading to a crash for sure.

So, what is the truth? Let’s find out what exactly happens when passengers or crew don’t switch their phones to airplane mode during a flight!

 Also Read:Mark Zuckerberg Covers His Laptop Camera. You Should Consider It, Too.

There is no evidence that signals from passengers’ electronic devices have ever caused a plane to malfunction and crash. The reason for prospective safety concerns is due to the fact that when you are more than 10,000 feet in the air, your cell phone signal bounces off multiple towers and sends out a stronger signal. This is something that might congest the networks on the ground. But, there has never been a case of a cell phone causing a plane to crash.

Also, if you leave it on, it can annoy pilots and cause an unpleasant sound for air traffic controllers. A smartphone’s radio emissions can be very strong, up to 8W, which cause this noise due to parasitic demodulation. However, in a worst case scenario, repeated interference from mobiles could cause the crew to miss a crucial radio call from air traffic control.

In a blog post for Airline Updates, a pilot said that transmitting mobiles can cause audible interference on an aircraft’s radios, but it is rare. He said: “Your phone will probably annoy a few pilots and air traffic controllers. But, most likely, not badly enough for them to take action against you if that’s what you want to know.”

“You may have heard that unpleasant noise from an audio system that occasionally happens when a mobile phone is nearby. I actually heard such noise on the radio while flying. It is not safety critical, but is annoying for sure.”

Those problems are something like the noise that can be heard when a smartphone rings near to a speaker: a slow, percussive thumping. But instead of coming out of a speaker it can be heard through the headsets that are worn by pilots.

Further, he also continues by saying that if 50 people on the plane did not turn their smartphone onto flight mode, it would cause a lot of “radio pollution.”


An engineer named ‘Coenraad Loubser’ said on Quora: “To compound matters, the weaker the signal your cell phone picks up from the tower, the more it amplifies its signal to try and get a response (and the more battery it uses). Planes with onboard cell coverage, allow your phone to communicate using very low power, or Wi-Fi. When you put your phone in Airplane mode, the GSM/3G Radio inside your phone is completely disabled and you can still use the phone for other functions.”

So, when you are flying next time, it is advisable to stick to the rules on-board.

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About the author

kasangaki Daniel

An IT Technician by day and Tech blogger by night, Daniel is at his happiest when he's able to help others solve tech issues. He loves discussing computers and playing video games. Feel free to contact him on social media!
Follow me: @core_ug on Twitter | kasangaki.danielon Facebook

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