The truth behind electronics on flights - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

The truth behind electronics on flights

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  For those who travel regularly, you know it can be bad timing, at the least, to have to turn off a cell phone or other electronic device when it's time to take off or land. 

Now the government is reviewing whether to allow digital devices such as tablets, e-readers and music players during takeoffs and landings. 

Flight attendants in a recent study said the number one cause of flight disputes was passengers not turning off their devices. 

Many of the rules today were reinforced during as study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University who tested out the, "T-PEDS" or transmitting personal electronic devices, and the theory of whether digital devices could cause a problem.

They did find evidence of issues.  WBTV's cyber expert, Theresa Payton, explains the issues and also a ray of hope that a new approach may be on the way: 

TESTS CONFIRM THERE COULD BE ISSUES WITH DEVICE TRANSMISSIONS

Carnegie Mellon rode over 35 flights and did find that if enough cell phone and other digital devices are turned on during take off and landing that the emissions could interfere with plane GPS satellite systems.  A non profit group called RTCA Inc. who conducts studies for the FAA did a separate review and issued a report of concerns about cell phones and T-PEDS interfering with airline equipment.

WHY IT'S BAD TO LEAVE YOUR DEVICES TURNED ON:

1.  You can get kicked off the plane.  Flight attendants can have you kicked off the flight and NY airports are considering levying fines for passengers who delay flights because they ignored the directions to turn off their device.

2.  One device accidentally left on may not be the issue but a whole plane of non compliant passengers could create a risk for the plane's navigation system - do you really want to chance it?

THE RULES MAY CHANGE SOON:

1.  Devices:  The FAA is studying alternatives that let you keep devices on -- however, it's possible the cell phone might still have to be turned off

2.  Pilots and iPads:  The FAA is allowing some pilots at American Airlines to use iPads in the cockpits as their electronic source for flight information like navigation charts and operating manuals

3.  How it would work:  They are exploring an on board technology that would allow devices to connect to the onboard antenna.  By controlling what devices talk to, they believe it might reduce emissions enough for you to stay connected just a little longer...

WEB RESOURCES:

The FAA fact sheet on cell phones, Wi-Fi, and digital devices: here.

The FAA's policy - AC 91.21-1B - Use of Portable Electronic Devices Aboard Aircraft: here.

Carnegie Mellon's press release about how cell phones could interfere with plane operations: here.

WORD OF THE WEEK:  DOXING

A play on the word "documents" or "Docx", it's a term used by hackers to refer to how they find information about individuals on the internet.  They might be collecting information such as your birthday, hometown, email address, passwords, photos, social security number.  Anything that could be used to identify you to either impersonate you or trick you.

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