Air scares, mobile electronics and minimizing human error

Pocket Lint reports that UK authorities are banning electronic gadgets from all flights due to security concerns in the wake of this morning’s terror scare at Heathrow Airport.

According to the British Airways website, “passengers are advised that no electrical or battery powered items including laptops, mobile phones, portable music players, remote controls etc can be carried in the cabin and must be checked in as hold baggage.”

I’m not afraid of bombs on airplanes, or Snakes on a Plane, or even bad inflight movies (even when, as they so often do, feature the loathsome Hugh Grant or that godawful Liz Hurley). The statistical probability of being a victim of a bombed airplane is just too low for me to bother thinking about. I’m a bit afraid of pilot error, purportedly the leading primary cause of air crashes. And I’m a bit more afraid of take-offs and landings, the settings in which an estimated 80% of air crashes occur. Still, at a likelihood of about one in six million of dying in an air accident, it’s not useful for me to be afraid of flying. [Sources: 1, 2].

I’m a nervous flier anyway, though. The use of interference-generating electronics is a serious (albeit contested) matter on airplanes, which need to maintain crucial air to ground communications. I just flew from Boston to Vancouver. And if this flight was a reliable sample, most passengers just don’t get it, and they won’t get it until an authority seizes their mobile phone or portable DVD player. Flight staff instructed passengers to shut off their electronic devices three times before and during takeoff, but passengers didn’t seem to think it was important to follow these instructions. Some people even kept their mobile conversations going throughout takeoff, and some later placed calls during the landing. It was quite the display of either arrogance, stupidity, or some combination of both.

I say ban the stuff indefinitely from the passenger cabin, if only to reduce the number of possible factors that could contribute to an air incident or accident. We don’t need these things on planes.

But then again, I’m a nervous flier.

3 thoughts on “Air scares, mobile electronics and minimizing human error”

  1. Thanks; I’ve been watching zefrank. I like him, though his style is just begging for a spoof.

    I really must get threaded comments set up on this blog.

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