- LISTEN IN FULL: Is it safe to use your phone on a plane?
Airline passengers should be allowed to use their portable electronic devices during take-off and landing according to an advisory panel to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the United States.
The panel recommends airlines allow passengers to use the devices provided they are in flight mode and their planes are fitted with sufficient shielding technology.
Hamza Bendemra, a PhD student from the Australian National University, has been studying the impact of portable electronic devices (or PEDs) on plane systems for the past year.
He says until now interference from mobile phones and other devices have been suspected in some cases.
“There have been reported cases of interferences possibly from electronic devices in the past but the issue is that there was never a direct link that was established between mobile phone usage on a plane and interference.
“The ban was more a conservative safety procedure,” he said.
“We have a lot more data now... and the panel established the risk is low, the likelihood is low.”
- Australian airlines may allow phones
Australia’s governing body for aviation safety is looking closely at how the FAA responds to the advisory panel recommendations.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesperson Peter Gibson says Australian airlines may alter their procedures depending on the outcome.
“We don’t have specific rules in Australia prohibiting the use of electronic devices. What we have is a requirement that the airlines ensure the safety of their flights at all times,” he said.
“So the airlines will need to consider what their position might be in the first place and then we will look at what they propose.”
Pilots already using iPads during take-off and landing
The Vice President of the Australian and International Pilots Association says he’s not surprised by the move.
“I think it’s inevitable that they’d move that way,” said Richard Woodward.
“I do have an iPad to display my charts... they’re set up (in flight mode)... so I guess if it’s good enough for us as the pilots it will be good enough for the passengers.”
But Richard Woodward told Hack he would still like to see a limit on phone usage on planes.
"The less they're used the better in our view," he said.
Flight attendant not convinced
Hack spoke to one flight attendant from a major Australian airline who said he didn’t think phones should be used at all during flights.
“It is a safety requirement (not to use phones).
“One person is OK... but when you get two, three, four and it just carries on because people just do it anyway I think that’s when you’ll run into a problem with your radars.
“I think the rules should be they just are switched off. I don’t think it will impact on you too much if you have to turn your phone off for an hour or two.”