If you're the type who waits until you receive a personal invitation from a flight attendant to please put your darn phone in airplane mode as was requested of all passengers 10 minutes ago — well, we relate. It's hard to detach from technology, even long enough to score that in-flight wi-fi at cruising altitude.
But it turns out that the airplane-mode requirement is not merely a draconian protocol... it is really essential after all. Former airline pilot and Redditor who goes by BoilerUp218 just spelled out all the very serious and justifiable reasons why you want to pay attention to that rule.
According to the pilot's Reddit post, "A cell phone could potentially cause a minor deflection on navigational equipment. Where this becomes most relevant is in the landing phase, especially in bad weather." The pilot wrote that most people don't understand how precise the aircraft's instruments are, and any interference could spell very bad news: "In the cockpit, if the indicator is even a little off, you're going to land in the grass. And if you land in the grass, you're gonna have a bad day." Point taken.
The pilot added, "Hearing the cell phone clicks over the headphones could cause the pilots to miss valuable instructions from air traffic control, which could lead to you flying into a mountain or another airplane. And if you fly into a mountain, you're gonna have a bad time." Yes, copy that.
Most importantly, the Redditor noted, is the issue of scale. "Sure, one person may leave their cell phone on for a flight in good weather conditions, but if you had 150 cell phones on during a flight, the navigational error may be larger. It may not matter on most days, when the weather is not an obstacle and approaches are done visually with the pilot navigating to the runway by just using his eyes, but it will matter when you get into... bad weather."
And BoilerUp218 added some words of warning to those who feel smug that they've so far managed to post freely to social media in flight, against the rules, and still remain alive. "To all of those who said, 'Well I leave my cell phone on and I have never crashed,' you should really rethink your strategy," the pilot wrote. "If I eat raw chicken and don't get salmonella, does it mean that you can't get salmonella from eating raw chicken? NO IT MEANS YOU GOT LUCKY. And so if you want to gamble on your plane not crashing so that you can get that extra three minutes of text messages in... then keep in mind there are hundreds of other passengers on the airplane who would prefer to probably live their life."
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