Maybe it was accidental, or maybe it was out of sheer contempt for a rule you believe is unnecessary.
A cell phone doesn’t have to jam the pilot’s radio or distort a plane’s glideslope to cause a catastrophe. That scenario is unlikely. But safety officials worry that portable electronic devices could contribute to an accident.
At Boeing’s Electromagnetic Interference Lab in Seattle, engineer Kenny Kirchoff enters a room shielded from electrical energy. He turns on a laptop positioned near an antenna and then points to a monitor. The laptop’s electrical emissions are superimposed over a line depicting airplane radio frequencies.
“You can see that some of the signals from the laptop actually jump over the limit,” Kirchoff said. “So that means there’s a potential that this piece of equipment could interfere with the VFR radios.”