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What Happens If You Don’t Use Flight Mode on Your Phone While Flying?

Does a Cellphone interrupt plane’s Navigation?

Some people say that a mobile phone interferes with the primary navigation equipment on a plane. However, this has never been proved to be the case. Aircraft systems are designed to very high specifications and are insulated from outside interference. However, just because a phone hasn’t been responsible for causing interference it’s not out of the question.

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Can a cellphone makes an aircraft directionless?

The issue is not with the aircraft, but with the pilot who is flying it. When a plane takes off from the runway, it’s like a bird flying with its eyes closed; it has no idea where it’s going until it’s directed by air traffic controllers, who give orders in the form of radio frequencies. If the plane does not receive any instructions, it has no idea what the weather is like up there, if any other flights are flying by, or even whether it is heading in the right direction, so the air traffic controller is extremely critical in guiding the aircraft. The pilot puts on his or her headphones and listens to the ground control person’s instructions. The plane’s amplifier attempts to intensify those weak RF signals and transmit them to the pilot’s headphones.

Cell phones run at a relatively low power level on the ground. However, when you move further away from a cell phone tower, the power of your phone must increase in order for you to communicate effectively. This power can be orders of magnitude greater than that of a basic Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signal.

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A single cellphone causes a plane down?

Since the signals obtained by your smartphone are much more effective than those received by the flight’s receiver, if your smartphone is not in flight mode and if it is flying, it continuously attempts to pick up signals from the nearest cell tower on the ground. This signal-hunting method will generate an irritating noise through the audio system, which pilots and air traffic controllers will be able to hear. You may be wondering how a single cell phone could cause such a disturbance. It isn’t just one phone, but what if every four out of ten passengers on the flight think the same way and don’t put their phones on flight mode? Consider how powerful the combined signal could be. The distraction could be enough to trigger a problem in flight. You don’t want your pilot to be distracted.

What if I turn off flight mode in the mid-air?

Putting your phones in flight mode can benefit both the pilot and you. Up to 10000 feet above the ground, your phone receives a continuous signal from the cell tower, so if you place your phone in flight mode, your pilot will not be interrupted by the noise, but if you keep on your phone, your phone stops receiving a signal from ground. However, the GSM chip inside the phone continues to try to pick up the signal from the nearest cell tower because it doesn’t realize you’re above 10000 feet right now, which will unnecessarily drain the phone’s battery life. So that is why, it is recommended that you put your phones in flight mode when flying.

What about in-flight Wi-Fi?

In-flight Wi-Fi is available on almost every domestic airline, but only JetBlue provides free in-flight internet. In this scenario, the plane act as hotspot, there are two ways to get the service, ground-based and satellite based. Onboard cell phones communicates directly with the wi-fi hotspot at very low power, causing no problems to pilot. But it’s not a big deal if you fail to put your phone in flight mode. However, you should obey this clear order because you are assisting the professionals on the plane who are getting you to your destination as safely as possible.

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Airlines

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

Welcome to another flight review, where we would be flying on United Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft on a 4 hour transcontinental flight from Las Vegas to Washington!

Las Vegas consists of 2 main terminals for commercial airlines, Terminal 3 and Terminal 1. Both Terminals serve different airlines, with Terminal 1 more focused on Low Cost Carriers, while Terminal 3 serving the main carriers such as Delta, American, United Airlines, together with international operators. 

We are currently in Terminal 3, which has a wide offering of food and drinks. Furthermore, since we are in Las Vegas, there definitely are some slot machines around the terminal for those who are hoping to make a quick buck before their flight. There was also supposed to be a gaming lounge, but it was closed due to renovation. 

Upon reaching the gate, we were informed of an approximately 30 minute delay to our departure time, due to the aircraft leaving its previous leg late. 

Here is our aircraft, ship 3506, a 17 year old Boeing 737 which would be ferrying us to Washington. Here she is, decked in the old United Airlines colour scheme, The boarding process soon began, with passengers being called to called based on their boarding group, so as to ensure an orderly boarding process. 

We were warmly welcomed aboard by the cabin crew, where sanitising wipes were available upon request. For this flight, I selected 28F, a Window seat. The Economy Class layout in United’s Boeing 737-800 is in a 3-3 configuration, while Business Class is in a 2-2 layout.

This particular aircraft is still fitted with the old cabin of United Airlines, with no in-seat power outlet, small Inflight Entertainment Screens, together with a dated cabin.

United is currently updating their Boeing 737 fleet to have a wider Inflight Entertainment Screen, which includes a USB power port for you to charge your devices. It will definitely be a welcome change on the longer transcontinental flights especially. 

The seats are sufficiently wide, with a rather sufficient legroom offered on the aircraft. Although not generous, I was still able to stretch my legs, so definitely no complaints. The seat has two pockets, one right below the screen, with the other at knee level, which allows you to store your personal electronic devices safely. There are also adjustable headrests, which is always an amazing feature on a seat. 

Soon, we were greeted by the Captain, who warmly welcomed us onboard, before apologising for the slight delay, informing us that he would attempt to get us airborne as soon as possible. 

Inflight Service 

After approximately 30 minutes after takeoff, the flight crew prepared the cabin for snack service. Starting at the front of the cabin, they slowly made their way to the back. 

This is where I feel United really shines, especially for flights on the North American Continent. There are small snacks such as pretzels, chocolate and chips, together with non alcoholic beverages which are provided complimentary to the passengers. There is a wide range of beverages being provided, from Water, Orange Juice to even Ginger Ale. Everyone was given 1 choice of beverage and snack for this service.

Headphones were also handed out on demand, which was definitely what set United apart from other airlines in their Domestic Economy class. In fact, some airlines do not issue headphones for free on International Economy class on the North American continent flights. 

After approximately an hour, the flight crews were walking about, offering passengers a coffee or tea, or any other beverage. Passengers could also request for other drinks of their choice, together with snacks, though some snacks are chargeable. 

Passengers could request for drinks or snacks throughout the entire flight, with the crew occasionally making rounds offering water to passengers. 

United Airlines has the option of allowing their passengers to add their credit cards online, before boarding the flights, so as to ensure a contactless transaction. The cost of items ordered would be billed to that particular card, therefore negating the need for passengers to go through the hassle of finding their credit cards onboard. Cash payments are also not accepted onboard the flight, therefore requiring a card for in flight purchases. 

There is wifi provided onboard, with free internet access to messaging applications. The internet was rather fast, and offered great connectivity onboard, enabling you to stay in contact with your loved ones even in the air.

Free wifi for streaming and internet surfing is provided to T-Mobile customers, and other passengers could also purchase wifi for the entire flight for the same purpose. The wifi could also be used to stream movies to your own device, with a large range of movies and TV shows which could be watched online.

The selection of movies are definitely more than sufficient to keep everyone occupied for the duration of the entire flight. 

Soon, we landed at Washington Dulles International Airport, just slightly behind schedule. We deplaned via an airbridge to a remote concourse, where we were ferried to the main terminal via a mobile lounge, which in my opinion is quite a unique system. 

Delay Management done right

One thing which really impressed me thoroughly was United’s management of delays. Knowing that the aircraft would be approximately 10 minutes late, the flight crews identified those passengers who have connecting flights through lighting the crew call button, therefore providing a visible identification.

Upon landing, passengers were advised to remain seated and let these passengers deplane first, so they could make up for the lost time. United Airlines were also transparent with the information and steps taken to mitigate delays to the travellers’ travel plans through keeping everyone in the aircraft updated with the status of the aircraft arrival. 

Final Thoughts

United’s Cabin Service exceeded my expectations, especially with the offering of earphones to all passengers in Economy, ensuring that passengers were able to enjoy the wide selection of inflight entertainment offered. This is in stark contrast to certain North American Carriers, where they follow a bring your own headphones concept, resulting in some passengers being unable to enjoy the inflight entertainment. Furthermore, the attentiveness of the crew certainly played a part in ensuring an amazing flight, ensuring that the passengers were comfortable and well hydrated. 

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Europe

KLM E190 Engine Incident, 1 Person Dead

An Embraer E190 aircraft from KLM Cityhopper has been involved in a ground incident where a person was ingested into the engine of the aircraft, resulting in a death. The incident was ruled by the Royal Military Police to be a case of suicide. 

This incident occurred on 29th May, when the Embraer E190 aircraft was preparing to depart as KL1341 to Billund in Denmark. Witnesses reported a ‘hellish noise’, followed by smoke coming from the aircraft, according to an article published by Dutch Newspaper De Telegraaf.

The Embraer E190 is a regional aircraft, frequently used by KLM and other airlines on lower density, regional routes. It is powered by two General Electric CF34-10E engines. The aircraft involved in question, PH-EZL, is a 14 year old aircraft. As a result of the incident, KL1341 was delayed by approximately 6 hours as passengers and crew had to be transferred to another aircraft. 

KLM mentioned in a statement that the incident was under investigation, and that they are currently taking care of the passengers and crew who witnessed that incident. 

In a further update from the Royal Military Police, investigations concluded that the ingestion had not been accidental.

The deceased man has been identified as an employee of a company operating at the airport. The investigation has revealed that he intentionally climbed into the engine, indicating this is a case of suicide.

Dutch Royal Military Police

We offer our condolences to the family of the deceased.

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Asia

Singapore Airlines emergency landing after severe turbulence

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 Aircraft lands at Singapore Changi Airport (Incident aircraft not pictured)

One passenger passed on, while dozens of passengers were injured when a Singapore Airlines Boeing B777-300ER aircraft experienced severe turbulence while en route to Singapore from London Heathrow Airport. The aircraft diverted to Bangkok, and landed at 3:45pm Local time on 21 May 2024 

The flight landed with 211 Passengers and 11 Crew members at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. According to the Airport Director Kittipong Kittikachorn at a news conference, there were 7 passengers who suffered serious injuries, while a number of other passengers suffered injuries of varying seriousness.

It was also confirmed that the passenger who passed on was a 73 year old British Man. In a statement from Singapore Airlines ‘ As of 0505 hours Singapore Time on 22 May 2024, 79 passengers and 6 crew members from SQ321 remain in Bangkok’. In another statement, it was reported that a relief flight with 143 passengers and crew members arrived in Singapore at 0505 hours Singapore time on 22 May 2024.

According to aircraft tracking site FlightRadar24, the 16 Year Old Boeing B777-300ER aircraft descended sharply from 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet in a short time. It was also further reported by FlightRadar24 that the descent was commanded by Autopilot, instead of being caused by turbulence.

Shortly afterwards, the pilot declared an emergency by squeaking 7700 on the transponder, indicating an emergency situation onboard the aircraft. The Boeing 777 aircraft then diverted to Bangkok, instead of continuing on its planned journey to Singapore. 

In view of this incident, Singapore Airlines mentioned in a statement that they are working with the relevant authorities on the investigation into this incident.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a US Government investigative agency for civil aviation incidents, is sending an accredited representative and 4 technical advisors to support the investigation by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB). TSIB mentioned in a statement that it ‘is in touch with its Thai counterparts and will be deploying investigators to Bangkok’. 

Boeing, the manufacturer of the Boeing B777 aircraft mentioned in a statement that they are in contact with Singapore Airlines regarding the ill-fated flight, and ‘stand ready to support them’. 

This situation is developing, more details will be added when they become available. 

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