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Cell phones on planes...Mythbusters March 15th!

by VioletBuddha / March 1, 2006 11:31 PM PST

Mythbusters will be testing the myth about cell phones interfering with plane navigation and control.

"Episode 49: Cell Phones on Planes
So supposedly, if you fill a normal raft with helium, you can fly. Let's see it ? get ready for the biggest Mythbusters' build ever. Meanwhile, Tory and Kari tackle a conspiracy theory familiar to many frequent fliers. Can your cell phone interfere with a plane's instruments?
premiere: March 15, 2006"

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I think we all know the answer to this....
by jplewis01 / March 2, 2006 12:01 AM PST

If Cell Phones were such a critical thing to not have turned on do you not think the crew would walk the isles with detectors prior to takeoff and if it was such a critical issue. Don't you think you would have to check in your cell phone and have is locked down for the flight. Estimates were last year that some absurdly high number of flights left the ground in the U.S with one or more cell phones still turned on many actually just silenced.


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I agree
by VioletBuddha / March 2, 2006 12:29 AM PST

I agree with what you said. IF cell phones really did affect an airplane, they would not let them on in the first place. I think that when the Mythbusters do their test, they will find that cell phones would affect the plane, but in such a small amount that its not noticable and that in order to really affect the plane, you would need some large amount of power. The power equivalent of like, 5,000 cell phones on at the same time.

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Devil's Advocate
by MacHugger / March 2, 2006 2:39 AM PST

I too feel the whole excuse that it interferes with navigation and communications is bogus. However...

Isn't there some concern about cell phone radiation being trapped in carriages of trains and planes and such? It can apparently exceed International Committee for Non-Ionising Radiation (ICNIRP) exposure limits if 30 people or more use their phone at the same time. Here is the article to reference if you're interested:

I guess the question then becomes whether or not you feel cell phone radiation is potentially harmful. But this effect may differ from what you normally experience when just receiving an incoming signal. It's a bit unclear to me.

-Kevin S.

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Why Bother
by rosscbrown / March 2, 2006 3:04 AM PST
In reply to: Devil's Advocate

I could not get signal while flying over Canada so why bother, I had to play about with my notebook (with bluetooth and wi-fi) on and play with my gps instead!

Same in hospitals - that just really pisses me off. Its a scam so you have to use the expensive phones there. Screw the critically ill, i need my mobile data!

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Hospitals Now Deemed OK
by nelsondr / March 2, 2006 11:47 AM PST
In reply to: Why Bother

A new study was done that shows that the ban on cell phones in hospitals is not neccessary. You can find an article on it at

There was just a study done that showed that cell phones "could interfere" with airplane navigation devices.

Now for my two cents worth...

I find it odd that only two way devices such as cell phone or two-way pager can supposedly interfere with airplane electronics, but not a regular pager. Also some international carriers are offereing Wi-Fi on transoceanic flights, and that doesn't seem to interfere with the plane.

Hopefully the Myth Busters will have a different result. While I don't relish the idea of flying nonstop from LA to New York and someone having a loud discussion on their cell phone, I would like to be able to have data-transmision.

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Good point...
by mobilegeek05-20592981391535263275494166326834 / March 3, 2006 12:29 AM PST
In reply to: Why Bother

Cell phones probably wouldn't get signal up there. Even if the towers have that kind of range, the towers are situated along highways so there would be two solutions if airlines want to alow people to use their cell phones:

1) re-route planes over major highways
2) put a cell phone towers for CDMA and GSM (and possibly iDen) phones on the plane.

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Mythbusters Rock!
by brianabartlett / March 3, 2006 3:45 PM PST

Mythbusters is one of the best shows ever. Nothing like proving a myth wrong, but still finding a way to blow stuff up!

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Try this
by Dirty Pirate / March 3, 2006 4:36 PM PST

Put your cell phone next to your computer monitor. not sure if this will work with plasmas, but hay, energy is energy right? and call your cell phone. You SHOULD see the picture on your monitor start bouncing all over the place. This will happen to Ipods with the click wheel as well, scared the begeezers outta me when it happened. Thought my Ipod was screwed.

Anyways, the point is... It isn't the conversation your having that can ****** the equipment, it is the initial call ( i.e RING ). There is more power/energy sent to the device and it is THAT power that causes the issues. Equipment that is not properly grouded as well will have this issue.. Don't believe me, if any of you work in I.T, put your cell phone in your cable closet, and nestle it in with that rats nest you call a cable plant. Dial your cell phone number and hold o tight, because your going to get bombarded with "The network is down", or the "interweb is broken".

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In the UK
by rosscbrown / March 3, 2006 6:57 PM PST
In reply to: Try this

only one network does that.

o2 UK - where as all the newer companies (that are still quite old, like vodafone) do not. Its weird, and it annoys me su much that I don't use o2!

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by rosscbrown / March 3, 2006 7:00 PM PST
In reply to: Try this

A reason not to use them, your cell would be going crazy at take off and landing as you lose and find networks, more so if you are roaming in another country - as you get a load of texts saying that you are roaming and how nice it is.

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Screws Up Call Center Phones
by nelsondr / March 4, 2006 12:06 PM PST
In reply to: Try this

I work in a call center for an airline, and Cingular and Verizon totally interfere with our phone pads when someone close by gets a call. Everyone is supposed to have their cell phones turned off when at their work positions, but of course we're working on the ground so do you think anyone follows that directive? Of course not...

Cingular seems to be the worse one about causing interference in our building. It also seems to make a difference what phone someone has. One of my co-workers has a Razr and it causes the most interference when they get or make a call in the work area. My T-Mobile V330 only causes problems if I have it sitting immedetiatly next to my phone pad.

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by alicial30 / March 4, 2006 2:15 AM PST

Aside from all of the technical stuff, I think the most important and consistent reason for no cell phones on planes is the fact that we're stuck in a confined space for hours, sometimes, and the LAST thing I want to listen to is someone's private conversation from a couple of inches away. Wow - that was a long sentence.

Once people get on a cell phone, their bubble of self-awareness shrinks, but usually we're only enduring fleeting effects of their driving, talking in theaters before the movie, and restaurants/coffee spots.

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