Airplanes Still Not Gameboy – Proof

In the immortal words of Erik Wolpaw, “isn’t it about time somebody at NASA finally got around to Gameboy-proofing these fucking jets?”

Consumer Affairs has a report from Carnegie Mellon University indicating that Gameboy interference on commercial airliners may be far greater than we ever could have possibly imagined. A cellular telephone, idly powered on during a trans-Atlantic flight, may be the subtle nudge it takes for your Airjet to suddenly cartwheel out of the sky and into the big drink, to be devoured by subaqueous Dagon.

Naturally, no hard numbers are offered on the probability of any this. Although “alarming increases in probability” are terribly concerning, they are pretty much meaningless without actually citing some numbers. If the chance of any one cell phone causing an airplane to spontaneously explode was previously believed to be 1 in a Trillion and is now merely 1 in a Billion, you can probably all continue to call 1-900 numbers on your cross-country flights with impunity.

Link: Study Warns Cell Phones Could Cause Airliner Crash

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  1. Paul D says:

    A friend who works for the airline industry tells me it is his “professional opinion” that the whole cell-phone-interference thing is just an excuse to force passengers to use the ridiculously expensive air-fones instead of their perfectly harmless cell phones.

    However, at 35000 feet, you are unlikely to be close enough to a cell tower for your phone to work anyway.

  2. Danilo says:

    You know, even if they’re just making this stuff up, I’ll happily trounce along with them through the land of make-believe. The flying experience today is bad enough with the cramped seats and the bastard sitting in front of me who enjoys making a game of crushing my legs. I don’t need the misery compounded by having that same bastard yammering on his Jabra for the entire flight.

  3. Rick Dobbs says:

    So, the terrorists have it all wrong, bombs are so late 90’s. All they need is 5 guys on a plane with a synchronized cell phone power-up.

  4. AcidReign says:

    …..Whatever happened to the humans in the cockpit who are actually able to read guages, look out the window and steer the plane? You know, the guys making $130 grand a year?

  5. CTSLICK says:

    Modern aircraft make the pilot a joystick jockey. Old aircraft had lots of pulley, cables and monkey motion to connect the pilot to all the things that keep an aircraft airborne. In a newer aircraft the only thing connecting a pilot to these things is a couple wires and the electrons that are in the wires. Generally speaking, there are no manual backups to compensate for anything the “might” interfere with those electrons. And thats just it…nobody knows, nobody is willing to test every device, there are no standards and nobody wants to even make a standard.

  6. adamondi says:

    Does anyone in their right mind REALLY think that any wire in a fly-by-wire system isn’t shielded and protected from random EM interference? Heck, you can buy shielded Ethernet cabling for not much more than regular stuff. I am sure that Boeing is springing for the good stuff in their $30 million planes. No cell phone in the world puts out enough radiation to penetrate the shielded systems of modern aircraft. Paranoia can be fun, but in the end it will just leave you with blood in your stool.

  7. CTSLICK says:

    Sure Boeing and Airbus use the “good stuff” when they design and build the aircraft. But what does that wiring look like 15 years later? Will it have the same properites as brand new? Unlike your ethernet cable the wiring on an aircraft endures daily heat cycling and vibrations. There are a dozen other factors that also cause the wiring to age. Ask anyone associated with older aircraft, wiring degrades…Period.

    And you’re right…it probably is paranoid. The direct effect of cell phones or any other electronic device has not been firmly established…suspicions at best. Hell, most laptop users have their WiFi and Bluetooth blasting away on top of all the cell phones that are left on and the flight crew still manages to find their way to the airport. But, I’ll say it again, nobody knows, nobody is willing to test every device, there are no standards and nobody wants to even make a standard. “We’re pretty sure” is fine for my car but not so much when I’m anything more than five feet off the ground.

  8. CMPalmer says:

    The real trouble is that, at 35,000ft, there are too many cell towers within range — they work by line of sight.

  9. This is why I fly FedEx. Haven’t crashed yet. Oh sure, getting into one of those oversized wardrobe boxes is tricky, but at least there’s no screaming babies on the flight.