I was struck by this article on the use of electronic devices by passengers onboard aircraft. It suggests that between 2003 & 2009 there were 75 'incidents' relating to how passenger electronic equipment interfered with the operation of the aircraft. In one case, the auto-pilot disengaged at 4,500 feet and following an enquiry by cabin crew, they found 4 passengers using 1 phone and 3 ipods between them! According to the report, IATA has called on passengers to heed the warnings about the use of electronic devices! There is an excellent analysis of the problem in the New York Times with one commentator stating:
"A plane is designed to the right specs, but nobody goes back and checks if it is still robust....then there are the outliers — a cellphone that’s been dropped and abused, or a battery that puts out more than it’s supposed to, and avionics that are more susceptible to interference because gaskets have failed. And boom, that’s where you get interference. It would be a perfect storm that would combine to create an aviation accident"
This is concerning stuff and for all readers you might feel that this is remote from your experience! Well I would say it is not!
I was recently on a low cost flight back to England. The crew had just finished the flight safety presentation and we were heading to the end of the runway. To my left were two people who throughout the presentation, talked, laughed and were playing with their ipods. At the end of the presentation, the crew reminded everyone that they should turn off all electronic devices and make sure that phones were in flight-mode. The cabin crew came along to check that everyone was strapped in but they did not stop the passengers across the aisle from playing with the ipods! I don't know about you, but I want to make sure I get from A to B in one piece and if that means I follow instructions on an aircraft, I do so. I could not allow the moment to pass so I politely requested the passengers to turn off their devices. I received a mouthful in response and they continued! I advised them, with my finger perched over the flight attendants bell, that if they did not turn the device off, I would call for assistance and ensure that they stopped playing with their ipods; I reminded my fellow passengers of the warning that was given and that I was not going to tolerate a breach of the rules! At this stage an attendant came toward to rows where we were seated and my two brave friends relented and packed their devices away!
The moral of the story is this; passengers should pay heed to warnings given on aircraft, it is for your own benefit, but cabin crew should be more proactive and not simply sail by when it is clear that a breach of the rules are taking place! Passengers deserve safety above convenience!