Time for a Reality Check in Airline Safety
You settle into your seat. You fasten your seatbelt low and tight, turn off all electronic devices, and make sure your seat is in the upright position. You are now ready for takeoff.
Then flight attendant announces that due to new FAA regulations a flight attendant will be collecting all cell phones and electronic devices.
It is also announced that a flight attendant will pass through the cabin with a scanner to find any electronic devices. In addition, all power will be cut to all systems at the airport and for a 10 mile radius around the airport during takeoff.
Absurd? Why? Each of the above rules can justified as necessary to ensure the safety of the aircraft systems and passengers. That is, after all, the standard of the current rules.
With last week's cargo bombs sent from Yemen, the natural jerk-reaction seems to be increase passenger security; however, isn't it time we did a reality check? Stupid in-flight rules do not make us safer.
Several tests, including tests by Boeing with 'known' culprit devices, have failed to show that personal devices can have any significant affect on a plane's heavily shielded avionics. The problem is that it is impossible to rule out any possible radio frequency (RF) interference and that is the basis of the existing rules.
Most passengers have experienced the 'under 10,000 feet' rule, where all devices must be turned off, and yet, under 10,000 feet is the area where cell towers, microwave towers, and millions of electronic devices broadcast their RF signal … outside the plane. So why are airlines concerned with the petty devices on board?
The idea that a passenger’s iPod is a threat to airline safety is laughable…and yet, everyday thousands of flight attendants suggest that passengers have in their possession the capability to cause the plane to spin out of control in to the ground unless they turn their iPod off.
Passengers need to respect the flight attendant because they are the most knowledgeable of how to survive in the event of a real emergency, so why do we flush their credibility with enforcing absurd rules in the first ten minutes of the flight? Maybe it's time to focus on real threats, not fantasy and we can start by de-criminalizing personal electronic devices.