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Turning Off iPhone Critical to Pilots Citing Interference

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The regional airliner was climbing past 9,000 feet when its compasses went haywire, leading pilots several miles off course until a flight attendant persuaded a passenger in row 9 to switch off an Apple Inc. iPhone. (www.bloomberg.com) 기타...

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sparkie624
This is BS... As a Part 121 Avionics technician for 28 years now working for a number of airlines and every plane manufacture out there, I cannot buy this scenario.... How did they know who's cell phone... I can hear the pilot now.. "We are off course, check everyone's cell phone". If something interfered, he needs to write it up and let maintenance fix it, or accept the blame. There is NO WAY in the world that both avionics systems (capt's & fo's) had the same error.... If one system was affected then they would have gotten a MISCOMP message, and to further look at this, what did the standby compass say.... They need to come up with a much more believable reason than blaming it on a cellphone. In a controlled environment I went to extremes to see what was required to interfere with the avionics. The only thing that I was able to do was with an Amateur Radio Hand Held. Running low power no interference (1 watt), when switched to high power and was only able to High Power (5 Watts) when the unit flat on the floor of the center isle, over the wing, with the antenna pointed forward I was able to get both compasses to move, Both moved in opposite directions and received a MISCOMP message.

To me sounds like the crew got off course using bad piloting skills and then found something to throw the blame on... If someone has beyond the shadow of a doubt can give me a positive way to where every time you can produce a fault on board the a/c let me know. I want to try it (in a controlled environment).
Derg
Well said Sparkie..takes guts to tell the truth. If all of us would stop being intimidated there would be real progress in problem solving.
GuamPilot
Regarding your Amateur Radio experiment. Do you remember the frequency you transmitted on? Did you try different frequencies? As a working ATP pilot and an active Ham, I'm curious if the source of interference was from the transmitted RF or spurious signals from the radio.
sparkie624
2 Mtrs, 220, 440Mhz, and 900 Mhz. Only one that interfered was 2 mtrs (145Mhz) at 5 watts
sparkie624
Oops. Did not complete answer... It was from the transmitted freq, as I used different bands on the same radio (2/220/440 Tribander).
GuamPilot
Interesting, thanks!
joelwiley
2011 incident? Insightful, timely, and informative in equal portions.
As the article said "the plane landed safely". Had in not, we probably would have heard sooner. Slow news day, slow enough to back up two years. lol
bleonetti
Hmmmm.....did someone forget to set the DG. I guess the GPS wasn't set to track!
sparkie624
Apparently they forgot to set their compass (left it in DG vs SLAVE), the GPS and FMS must have been on MEL.

Just an off topic note, the GPS is not the most accurate form of navigation. The most accurate is DME-DME (which many many have not heard) but is an integral feature of FMS. FMS default navigation is DME-DME which each DME receiver can receive up to 5 stations each at the same time making an incredible accurate location of the a/c. GPS on most all part 121 airliners is only used for secondary GPS navigation in the cases where there are very few DME Stations. If your GPS is not working and you are in a low DME Coverage area you will see a message "FMS DR" manually check your position.
MimosaDrive
If the plane was "climbing past 9,000 feet", why did the passenger have the iPhone on anyway? The "compasses" went haywire? Was this a vintage Piper Cub?
sparkie624
LOL, sounds like it....
dbaker
"The FAA prohibits use of electronics while a plane is below 10,000 feet, with the exception of portable recording devices, hearing aids, heart pacemakers and electric shavers."

What about watches? Those are allowed. And where do you draw the line as those get more sophisticated?
jkudlick
Wait, so passengers DON'T have to turn off their pacemakers below 10,000 feet?

SMH
RRKen
I noted this passage on a sidebar:

"The cockpit of a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner is shown during an event in Arlington, Virginia. Laboratory tests have shown some devices broadcast waves powerful enough to interfere with airline equipment, according to NASA, aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. and the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority."

I will look into this study later, however if such science is accurate, which Ric Wernicke alluded to, this may indeed be worth further research prior to any restrictions being lifted.

As a radio tinker since age 13, and doing the same with other electronic devices including computers, I have experienced the same with harmonics and "birdies" internally produced in poorly designed, dirty (read cheap) equipment. Today,some cell phones have the same issues.

I will also admit that radios used in Aviation are produced with filtering that should suppress some interference. However if a particular device does produce a harmonic which is on the same frequency, no amount of filtering will eliminate it.
DavidChouinard
Response by Nick Bilton (NYT), a big critic of FAA policy on interference: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/for-iphone-interference-on-planes-speculation-not-science/
layman85
layman85 1
Also interesting that Bloomberg View, the editorial arm of the news organization, was one of the early voices calling for the overturning of the electronics ban.
bbabis
bbabis 1
Cell phones are convenient scapegoats for many compass system or pilot errors. A failed slaving system or switch in the wrong position is the most common error. Since the inception of cell phones i have flown with them ON in the cockpits of aircraft from Champs to business jets and have never seen one issue. All this will go away when airlines can generate a revenue stream from cell phone use and then their use will be encouraged as much as possible. Cigarettes are bad but they make too much money to ban. Ethanol is bad in our gas but makes too much money for those involved to ban. I could go on and on but the general rule is money is the cause of most issues and solves them also.
sparkie624
You are dead on the money.
Derg
The sad part about this is the fact that the bean counters believe what senior flight deck crews tell 'em.
jlsmaytham
I am beginning to suspect that Google (and others) pay people to insert promos and adverts in inappropriate places like this. Perhaps they get paid so much a dozen?
jlsmaytham
My comment was supposed to be a sub-comment/reply to Todd Baldwin
dg1941
dg1941 1
I just realized, if portable devices are so dangerous, then why was the iPad approved for flight bag and navigation use. I know that pilots don't generally put those in airplane mode.
jimquinndallas
I've often wondered if cameras, including camcorders, can or do cause interference to any nav/comm systems. Some years ago when cellular companies introduced the so-called portable phones, multiple cell towers would 'light up' when someone in an aircraft used the phone and according to the tech manager at one of the cellular providers, the company would send a letter to those they suspected of using the phone while airborne. Of course everything was analog at that time so I'm sure it must have made a difference in the phone emissions. I've had to use my cell phone a couple of times during SAR ops when I couldn't get radio contact with the right people, but those were extenuating circumstances and otherwise have always turned my phone off. I have never seen any effects of using cellular phones while on the ground, but then I don't fly the gear with the very sophisticated electronics aboard.
sparkie624
No they cannot. Camcorders do not emit that kind of signal (unless you have a WIFI output enabled). Note a lot of video taken in planes. (go to youtube and search for "capnaux" and note the spelling. He has a lot of inflight videos that are great.
dbenjaminpilot
Horse
Shit
dont believe this bs.
n1chu
Ok. Turn the phone off and the problem goes away. To verify the phone was the problematic cause at altitude by turning it back on would be recklace but I wonder if they tried to test the phone again when they landed? It could be that the seat assignment was close to the planes internal nav wiring. In which case the pilot should have shown a concern-maybe the planes wireing had a wireing distribution box connection in close proximity to that seating assignment which had become faulty, allowing interference. The loss of a shielding cable connection? Maybe the use of photo optical cable would eliminate passenger compartment interference. Expensive, yes. But when compared to the loss of an airliner/passengers its gotta be cheaper. The insurance industry ought to stop their "acceptable level of risk" applications as applied to airliners. In effect they are telling us the loss of "X" amount of airplanes and passengers is acceptable. I thing I'll just stay on the ground, for when the technology exists, and is not used, and the reason given is "overkill" it's a contradiction in terms. Overkill my ass. That thinking is overkilling us!
sparkie624
Shielding would have had to be at the same spot for both compass systems to have that effect. There are 2 main compass systems. If one goes out of tolerance for even a 1/2 second and MISCOMP message will appear. For this to happen it would have had both shields at the same location with the same damage. Further more, system 1 and system 2 wiring are not traveling together... For the most part the captains instruments and black boxes are on the captains side as well as the wiring, and the same for the First Officers. The chances of anything like this happening is great than 1:"Obama's Debt Limit"
bbabis
bbabis 1
You can make science say anything you want. The same generated theories are being used to tell us about global warming as the planet is actually cooling. I learned long ago to believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see. People always push their agendas and beliefs and "prove" their views somehow. Phones must be turned off and electric shavers are OK. That makes sense! Ever walked by a radio with one of those on? Its just that electric shavers don't take money from the airlines.

[This poster has been suspended.]

dg1941
dg1941 1
I talked to an instrument technician a few years back, and he told me that all of that stuff about cell phones causing crashes is false (unless of course you are using the old brick, which is effectively a low power radio anyways).
sparkie624
Very true... the main reason for the electronics being off from the cabin door closes is simple. It is to help people pay attention to announcements front the Flight Crew.

I see more interference from external items of the a/c. the biggest one being REBAR in the ramps... These have interesting effects on Radio Altimeters which can cause false deployment of the ground spoilers... If you ever have a situation where one or both of your RA's are bouncing up and down, move about 10 feet. It will probably quit. If HYDRAULICS are on, the Ground Spoilers may bounce up and down as well depending on your type of plane.
joelwiley
? sorry, what do you mean by REBAR? Couldn't find references other than the stuff in concrete under the A/C. Pardon the question.
sparkie624
RE-BAR is steel bars imbedded into the concrete to reinforce it. Without it, the surface would simply crumble. Helps distribute the weight. See more info on WIKIPEDIA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebar
joelwiley
Sorry, I was thinking it was an arcane acronym for an electronic system on the ramp that I was missing. Sometimes the answer is just too simple, and then sometimes, the only exercise one gets is from dope slaps. Thanks for the followup :) Reminds me of the HenWeigh in plumbing.
Derg
Sparkie...that's why in my opinion all flight crews should have at least 101 in engineering at a degree level or similar. I am a structurally trained but I know the basics of the other disciplines.
sparkie624
I am not sure I agree... The few pilots who have an A&P License are the ones to watch out for and hardest to deal with. Many think they know everything, and yet do not understand the basic system. The pilots who know too much and trouble shoot in the air are the ones who scare me... Note the Air Alaska MD-83 in January or 2000. If the crew had not Trouble Shoot the a/c everyone would have had a chance of survival. Would have been a tough landing, but it would have been better than the one they had. See "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Airlines_Flight_261" for more information.
joelwiley
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Airlines_Flight_261
the last double quote was picked up as part of the address.
sparkie624
Oops... My Bad.
Derg
Yup...agreed. You can be duff and still have the paper quals. The points raised should be taken to Perdue or somewhere like that for a full analysis. In my view the best method would be to have a 23 yr old grad with a 60 yr old hands on tool guy. I used this system with my own son and it works very well. Certainly well enough that the guys respect and follow his lead.
Derg
Have to say he is WAY ahead of me now. I nvr achieved anything above technician level and one of the biggest lessons is saying I DON'T KNOW. Of course the tech has changed but the basic Isaac Newton stuff remains..hahaha..in the normal commercial world anyway. I have witnessed other stuff...back in 1967... but that is AS YET in the hands of the military.
RRKen
All cell phones are low powered radios.
rebomar
rebomar 1
In my airplane the only phones that have caused problems were on the ATT network. I can hear the interference on the intercom and moving the phone near the panel causes the nav indicator needles move incorrectly. It does not matter if it is an iPhone or Android phone. Funny thing is that Verizon phones do not cause any problems.
sparkie624
I doubt it is the phone, but keep in mind that Verizon uses CDMA technology and ATT uses GSM Technology. I still do not buy any phone causing interference to the avionics system.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

ToddBaldwin3
This is a discussion about cell phones and RF interference on aircraft, not a debate over which phone is better.
matthewcoffey
Did you read past the first sentence?? Sometimes I wonder about pople like you. How are you to comprehend an article if you are ignoramus and can t get over the fact that you are jelouse of the Iphone users. Mabey ur poor and cant afford one, or mabey your just stupid. By the way, you are on Flightaware, and the main point of the article is dealing with phones in general, not a particular phone. Also, your ignorance shows from the profanity. First of all, Jobs was a genius, weather you like his produces or not. Lastly, Takes one to know one.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Moviela
Hello Peter, your logic is contains a fatal flaw. All portable RF devices (minor exceptions) have a local oscillator that is by nature rich in harmonics. There are many different frequencies depending on the needs of the circuit and even the whim of the designer. The harmonics add additional frequencies to the radiated field. Now we introduce the physical concept called heterodyning that combines two waves of different frequency in order to produce a new frequency equal to the sum or difference of the two.

Imagine your iPad oscillator and that of a nearby cell phone had a difference frequency nearly the same as your radio compass. You might be headed toward Cincinnati but arrive in Columbus.

Imagine now you have 300 portable devices operating inside the aircraft. The RF field would be large and covers a good portion of the usable spectrum.

The signal can get into the aircraft equipment through the antenna, through the air, and through the power supply.

I will follow the rules and keep my radios turned off.

There are always those who propose changing the rules to suit their misguided agenda. Lifting the ban on electronic devices makes as much sense as allowing camping stoves to be used on tray tables to make tea.

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