Why are electronic devices put on airplane mode on a flight? – Explained |


Passengers are frequently reminded to either power off their electronic devices or activate ‘Airplane mode’ before takeoff. However, what prompts this precaution? This article aims to explore the rationale behind why electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops are placed in airplane mode throughout flights.
This article will explain the reasons behind placing electronic devices in airplane mode during a flight.

What happens when a device is set to Airplane mode?

When an electronic device is switched to airplane mode, it deactivates all wireless connections. Instead of signal bars, you’ll notice an airplane icon on your phone. This action stops the transmission of cellular signals, meaning you won’t receive calls, texts, or internet services. Additionally, Wi-Fi connectivity is disabled in airplane mode. However, if the flight provides Wi-Fi access, you can still connect to the internet by enabling Wi-Fi even while in airplane mode.

Reasons why airplane mode is turned on during flights

  • Safety: Airplane mode is turned on during flights primarily for safety reasons.
  • Communication Interference: Electronic devices emit radio waves and electromagnetic interference that can disrupt the aircraft’s communication systems.
  • Pilot Communication: Interference from electronic devices could make it difficult for pilots to communicate with air traffic control or ground support staff.
  • Prevents Disturbances: Turning on airplane mode helps prevent disturbances to critical aircraft instruments caused by signals from electronic devices.
  • Regulatory Requirements: Regulatory bodies like the FAA and FCC mandate the use of airplane mode or disabling cellular connections during flights to ensure aviation safety.
  • Avoids In-Flight Disruptions: With airplane mode activated, passengers can avoid causing disruptions to the aircraft’s communication systems while still being able to use certain functionalities like Wi-Fi.
  • Compliance with Guidelines: Airline passengers are required to follow guidelines set by regulatory authorities to maintain the integrity of the aircraft’s communication systems.
  • Enhanced Communication: By minimising interference from electronic devices, airplane mode enhances communication between the aircraft and air traffic control, ensuring safer and smoother flights.
  • Prevents Potential Hazards: Electronic devices emitting signals during flight could potentially interfere with critical aircraft navigation systems, posing hazards to the aircraft’s operation.
  • Precautionary Measure: Activating airplane mode is a precautionary measure taken by airlines and passengers to mitigate any potential risks associated with electronic devices during flight.

Flight mode guidelines

According to FAA guidelines, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibit the use of cell phones during flight due to the potential interference with crucial aircraft instruments. Passengers are required to utilise airplane mode or disable cellular connections on their devices. However, if the airplane is equipped with a WiFi system approved for passenger use by the airline, passengers may access WiFi on their devices while in flight.


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