There is a battle of the wills going on between the Federal Communications Commission and the airlines. The FCC is opposed to the use of cellphones, laptops and other wireless devices on planes for fear that they could interfere with the planes ‘navigation or other systems’. The airlines, on the other hand, see dollar signs from offering passengers cellular and WiFi services at ridiculously high prices. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have added some weight to the FCC’s arguments with a new study. They concluded that passengers using cellphones or wireless laptops on a flight are more than likely to disrupt cockpit operations. Most calls are made on takeoff and landing and this is when the systems would be most vulnerable. The study concludes that the use of devices should be restricted on flights.
The research was not conducted in a laboratory. Researchers stowed a broadband antenna attached to a spectrum analyzer in a piece of carry-on luggage. The results are particularly relevant as the FCC is conducting their own study that is due at the end of the year.