Why Don’t Phones Work On An Airplane?

Why don't phones work on airplane?

Julie and her mother were just getting on the plane. It was going to be Christmas soon, and they were going to meet her grandparents. Dad was also joining them there in a few days. Julie was happy to get the window seat as she loved to look outside. Just when the plane started rolling, she remembered that she forgot to say goodbye to her dad. She reminded her mama who gestured her to stay quiet and listen to the announcement that was being made.

“Please switch off your mobile phone and any other electronic gadgets you have at this time”, the loudspeaker said.

Julie was surprised as she did not know that they had to switch off the phones. As soon as the announcement stopped she asked her mother, “Why can’t we use phones on the airplane? Don’t they work?”.

Her mother told her that there are a bunch of reasons why we do not use the phone when we are travelling by air.

“All the electronics emit some kind of radio waves. These waves are invisible carriers of information from one place to another. It is possible that radio waves from the cellphones might interfere with the airplane electronics. However, we are not very sure about that since there are not enough tests done to prove it.”

“Can cell phone companies not fix this problem? Shouldn’t they do something about it?”, confused Julie asked.

“Not really. Cell phones work by connecting to the nearest network tower. When a passenger on the plane uses the cell phone, more network towers are able to receive signals from the cellphone than when a cellphone is on the ground. Obviously, keeping the phone switched on while in air, is more expensive for cellphone companies. Hence, it is much simpler for the cell phone companies if the phone is switched off during the flight.”, mom explained.

“Oh! But if I have to reach someone in an emergency?”, asked Julie.

“We have these in flight phone service that a passenger can use.” told her mother.

Julie paused for a minute and then smiled.

“Another thing”, mom said, ” Would it not be too noisy if all of us were chattering away on our cellphones”.

Julie chuckled and looked outside excitedly. She secretly planned to bombard her cousin Luke with all these questions once she reached grandma’s house. She was very sure that he would not know.







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