I’ll be the first to admit that I thwart airline rules about turning on electronic devices during takeoff and landing. I don’t like reading print, and a year and a half after getting it, I still have a comfortable yet steamy love affair with my Kindle. I just can’t resist flipping the switch at the riskiest of times during my flights.
According to a report that ABC News got its hands on, though, I might be putting many, many lives at risk. ABC picked up a confidential industry study that indicates the safety issues could be real. Very real.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) studied survey responses from 125 airlines from 2003 to 2009 and found … “75 incidents of possible electronic interference that airline pilots and other crew members believed were linked to mobile phones and other electronic devices.” Twenty-six of them, a tad more than a third, “affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear.” Another 17 hit navigation systems, with 15 affecting communication systems.
Of course, the report “stresses that it is not verifying that the incidents were caused by PEDs,” according to ABC News.
Some of this stuff is straight out of horror flicks: clocks spinning backwards, GPS devices malfunctioning and “altitude control readings changed rapidly until a crew member asked passengers to turn off their electronic devices.”
Scary stuff, no doubt.
So, is all this real?
Apparently, it’s hard to say. According to ABC News’s aviation guy, John Nance:
“There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there, but it’s not evidence at all,” said Nance, a former Air Force and commercial pilot. “It’s pilots, like myself, who thought they saw something but they couldn’t pin it to anything in particular. And those stories are not rampant enough, considering 32,000 flights a day over the U.S., to be convincing.”
The feedback is mixed, it seems, leaving each of us to decide whether to roll the dice.