Is your mobile phone turned on in flight capable of causing a crash?

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Since the discovery of a vulnerability, some aircraft Boeing 737 and 777 remain sensitive to the signals emitted by mobile phones even in airplane mode, reports Time Magazine. Interference can lead to cockpit screen failures and loss of control, says the FAA.

Some passengers do not turn off their mobile phone during the flight, considering this obsolete security measure. However, mobiles are actually capable of causing disruption to the communication systems of certain types of aircraft, Time Magazine said, citing specialists.

Aircraft sensitive to interference

In 2014, US government officials revealed that some Boeing 737 and 777 aircraft could crash as a result of disruptions caused by electronic signals, it says.

More than 1,300 aircraft registered in the United States have been equipped with cockpit displays sensitive to interference from mobile phones, Wi-Fi and weather radar, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). On the order of the agency, the aircraft concerned, equipped with devices manufactured by Honeywell, must be refitted before November 2019.

However, hundreds of aircraft may continue to use the old systems with this security flaw cited in the FAA report. However, very important indicators like speed, altitude and navigation, could disappear and “cause a loss of control of the aircraft at an altitude insufficient for recovery,” said the FAA in a security bulletin.


Although Honeywell has not heard of screens hidden by magnetic currents from cell phones on board or other signals in mid-flight, according to company spokeswoman Nina Krauss, the FAA has testified to having performed tests on aircraft in service, which were failures.

Boeing discovered an interference during a lab test in 2012, yet the airline claims to have not noticed similar problems on other aircraft, it says. Honeywell has been warned of only one case of simultaneous malfunction of the six screens of a 737, said Ms. Krauss, for whom it was only a temporary electronic flaw software.

Many airlines now allow passengers to put their phones in “airplane mode”, which allows Wi-Fi . However, cellphone signals are so powerful that they can reach a mobile tower, said Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University professor Tim Wilson.

The use of the mobile phone for flight calls, barely authorized in 2013 by the FAA, was finally banned by Congress in 2018.

More work to do

Honeywell interviewed this week on the progress of replacement work, said 8,000 items had been changed and less than 400 needed to be upgraded.

According to Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines, the redevelopment work has been completed. American Airlines Group has 14 more aircraft whose devices need to be replaced, while United Airlines has yet to replace components in 17 aircraft, said representatives of these companies.


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