Passengers are always told to switch off their mobiles, but on the Nepal flight, people were taking videos, and using phones.
If you are boarding a flight, the first thing you will remember the air hostess telling you to do is to either switch off your cellphone or put it on Airplane mode. The use of phones is restricted while taking off and landing as most people know. A 2017 survey by Allianz Global Assistance in the US found that about 40% of passengers left their cell phones on while flying.
However, we are all aware of the use of cell phones during that ill-fated Yeti Airlines flight, and on most Indian flights too. In fact, Sonu Jaiswal, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, India, and three of his friends recorded the last video, laughing and having fun.
In the video, one of them can be heard saying “Mauj Kar Di (It’s really fun),” as the camera shows the scenic view of Pokhra town. While one moment we see the joyous face of Jaiswal, the other moment, the phone turns and flames appear in the frame. In what is the most chilling part of the sequence of events, the live broadcast continues even after the crash.
The Yeti Airlines plane crash in Nepal is the third worst aviation incident in the Himalayan country. Two videos taken just seconds before the plane crash have left the whole world stunned.
When the Tara Airlines flight crashed in May 2022 after taking off from Pokhra, authorities weren’t able to locate the location of the crash for a while due to bad weather conditions. But as one of the pilot’s phones was ringing, they were able to trace the location of the phone and locate the crash site. This also meant that the pilot did not have his phone turned off or on airplane mode.
Why are mobiles banned on flights?
But why are cell phones banned on flights? The US FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) bans the use of mobile phones mainly to prevent network overload on the ground. This is due to the fact that cell phones don’t have networks thousands of feet up in the air when the flight is at sailing altitude.
Our cell phones somehow connect to the networks on the ground relentlessly and perhaps hamper communication on the ground, draining batteries.
The other reason is to ensure safety on flights. In theory, there is a concern that phone signals could interfere with the navigation and communication systems of the plane.
Those signals are very authentic, and the autopilot flying those signals is also very precise. One pilot said that most phone signals can interfere with the communication system on a flight, like when a pilot is trying to contact the ATC.
Despite using mobiles on flights, so far, there has not been a single plane crash in history attributed to the use of phones.
In-flight cell service:
In-flight cell service: Now, some countries allow airlines to offer passengers in-flight connectivity for free or for a fee. This is enabled on a different frequency than the one the flight system uses, to ensure there is a minimal risk of interference.
The Indian airspace has recently given the nod for Indian and foreign airlines to offer in-flight connectivity. Similarly, Nepal and the EU allow in-flight connectivity. The US airspace is yet to agree to this.
The in-flight connectivity differs from airline to airline. Some offer WiFi connectivity to stream movies or music on the in-flight entertainment system, while others allow internet voice calls as well.
European regulators will also soon allow 5G-enabled phones to be used to full capacity during flights. This is again because 5G phones use a different frequency than the airline systems.
But 5G phone use on flights won’t be allowed everywhere. The US has strictly banned it as the US 5G frequency is said to be stronger than the ones in Europe.
While turning off phones or putting them in airplane mode is better than feeling sorry later, there is still no evidence that phone use can cause plane crashes, but perhaps it can hinder signals in such a way as to make a plane crash more liable.