`Perfect storm` from mobile use can cause planes to crash

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 13:41

London: Experts have revealed that mobile phones and other gadgets can create enough of a “perfect storm” of interference with aircraft instruments to cause a crash.

With more and more portable electronic devices coming on the market, passengers are becoming increasingly indifferent about potential dangers to sensitive cockpit equipment.

Most personal devices transmit a signal and all emit electromagnetic waves, which, in theory, could interfere with the plane’s electronics, especially older planes, which have do not have proper protection against the latest generation of devices.

“The technical advancements for wireless devices and portable electronic equipment is so rapid, it changes every week,” the Daily Mail quoted Doug Hughes, an electrical engineer and air safety investigator, as saying.

“The advances in airplanes take 20 years,” he stated.

David Carson, an engineer with Boeing, said that electronic devices do not cause problems in every case, but when people assume that it never will, that is the time the problem starts.

Bill Strauss, then a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University, monitored the signals emitted from phones during flights and discovered that they were frequently being left on.

Strauss said the deterioration of planes and advance or decline of electronic devices over time is the immeasurable factor that is never taken into account by passengers.

“A plane is designed to the right specs, but nobody goes back and checks if it is still robust,” Strauss said.

“Then there are the outliers — a cellphone that’s been dropped and abused, or a battery that puts out more (power) 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,” he added.

ANI



First Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 13:41

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