It’s an article of faith among travelers: you have to shut off your cell phone on the flight because it might disrupt the navigational equipment. And while you won’t be able to take it on a commercial flight yet, Aircell, leading providers in in-the-air telephony, are happy to sell you the first Android smartphone for in-flight use. Price is currently unavailable, but we’re going to guess “expensive”.
Or you could just use your actual cell phone, since the entire reason you can’t use your cell phone in-flight is due to bureaucratic problems, not science.
You may be wondering why we’re calling out Aircell for this. Well, because it’s just a shameless attempt to wring a couple of hundred dollars out of businessmen who don’t understand science.
The problem is not now and never has been electrical interference: it’s bureaucracy. If electrical interference were actually a problem, you’d have to check your cell at the ticket counter. Cell phones have never been tested for safety on an airplane by the federal government, and the government doesn’t want to do the testing because it would be expensive, complex, and not to their benefit, even if the Mythbusters are willing to do it for them. The airlines, having no safety data and being legally on the hook if anything goes wrong, have responded by banning all cell phone use.
So, if you want an airplane-safe cellphone, write your Congressman and tell him to get the FAA off its lazy duff and do its job instead of buying a spare smartphone with a proprietary jack and some shielding thrown in for looks.