It's a rule airlines have been very clear on for a long time – mobile phones cannot be used during a flight, unless tracking functions are disabled.

Aside from a growing number of planes that offer in-flight WiFi, this rule has forced us into a digital detox for a number of hours – whether we like it or not.

While we're told that signals from mobile phones can interfere with a plane's navigational equipment – which sounds dramatically dangerous – it seems this might not be entirely true.

These days, the rule may be more to do with preventing a cabin full of passengers nattering away on their phones – which could cause a lot of problems in the age of increasing "air rage" incidents.


American pilot Patrick Smith, founder of, told Wales Online: "It's unlikely that a mobile phone can cause problems in the cockpit, particularly on modern aircraft where components are, by design, carefully shielded, but it's not impossible.

"Ultimately, though, the phone thing is more of a social issue rather than a technological one — that is, do you really want to be sitting on an aeroplane listening to 200 people chatting away simultaneously?"

He continued: "It's possible that airlines are using the mere possibility of technical complications as a means of avoiding the social implications of allowing cellular conversations on planes.

"The minute regulators say that phones are safe, a percentage of flyers will demand the right to use them, pitting one angry group of travellers against another."

Another pilot also believed this was the case.

EasyJet pilot Chris Foster told the Liverpool Echo that aircraft systems were so sophisticated now that phones would not cause any interference.

"The regulations date back many years to when we didn't even have things like iPads," he said.

He said he thought the rule might even be reversed soon.
However, earlier this year a group of passengers were kicked off a flight after an flight attendant snapped over a phone not being on flight mode.