Why Can’t We Use Phones on Airplanes?

In Physics by Mystifact

When we get on a plane we automatically turn our phones off or put them on airplane mode. On the off chance that we forget we get reminded all the time, but do phones really affect the plane, and could they cause a crash?

 Phones emit waves in the radio frequency and it is said that these radio waves may, though unlikely, interfere with aircraft communications, flight control, pilot cockpit equipment or other electronic equipment on the plane.

BUT this is more to do with what the public believes rather than what Science confirms. In the past few years, Science has been examining the electromagnetic interference of electronic devices on aircraft. The general rule of thumb is anywhere below 10,000 feet and electronic devices (phones/ laptops and handheld gaming devices) are basically harmless.


Since it is better to be safe than sorry, electronic devices are banned on airplanes HOWEVER, this ban has been lifted by a variety of different companies as time progresses. Airfrance was the first to do this to allow for texting, e-mailing and for even making calls.

When you use your phone on a plane you are thousands of feet above a cell tower (cell tower in image below) and are travelling at 500 miles an hour. When you are on the ground your phone doesn’t work very hard to make a call and in the air, your phone gets confused and doesn’t know which cell tower to use due to travelling so high and so fast. This makes your phone emit stronger signals increasing the possibility that it will interfere with plane equipment.

 Newer plane technology use the PicoCell which is a mini cell tower on board that allows phones on the plane and cell towers on the ground to interact normally.

I wonder how long it will take before all planes have this technology.

If you have any questions, leave them below and until next time, take care.

~ Mystifact

Please note; no copyright infringement is intended. All images used have been labelled for re-use on Google Images. If any artist or designer has any issues with any of the content used in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me to correct the issue.