Will “Airplane Mode” Ever Go Away in Commercial Airlines?

“Airplane Mode” is a device setting that is familiar to virtually every modern frequent flyer. As the demand for ever-present connectivity continues to grow, some have wondered if advancements in aviation will make “airplane mode” obsolete. Is it possible that the long-standing practice of putting your phone in airplane mode might eventually become a thing of the past?

The Current State of Airplane Mode

Airplane mode disables a phone’s wireless communication functions, including cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, to ensure that electronic devices do not interfere with an aircraft’s navigation and communication systems. Although the chances of a phone interfering with the cockpit is minimal, passengers are still required to put their phones in airplane mode to adhere to safety best practices.

However, recent technological advancements in aviation have made aircraft systems more reliable and adaptable. Modern aircraft are designed to be highly resistant to electromagnetic interference, making them less susceptible to a phone’s frequencies and signals. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also been researching ways to upgrade guidelines for electronic device usage and internet connection on airplanes.

As a result, the likelihood of electronic devices causing interference – which was already minimal – has decreased further in recent years on many aircraft. This improved electromagnetic compatibility may pave the way for reassessing “Airplane Mode” requirements.

IFE Content and Its Influence on the Passenger Experience

The introduction of in-flight Wi-Fi has revolutionized passengers’ experience during air travel. While the bandwidth on most commuter flights is currently limited to browsing the internet or using certain applications, the capabilities of airline connectivity are vast. As airlines are researching and implementing ways to help passengers stay connected without compromising flight safety, the day when airplane mode is no longer needed may not be too far in the future.

In the meantime, in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems work to make up for the lack of connectivity. IFE provides passengers with a wide array of options for entertainment during flights – including giving them access to a vast selection of movies, TV shows, music and games – that make airplane mode far easier to tolerate.

Many airlines have also been integrating wireless streaming services as part of their onboard entertainment, meaning passengers can access IFE content on both their personal devices and their seat-back personal televisions (PTVs).

The Hurdle of Cellphone Communication on Flights

Many flyers still want to be able to use their phone to call, text or simply stay connected during flights. Some countries have already allowed limited cellular usage on planes, while others maintain restrictions.

Using cellular networks during a flight raises concerns regarding network interference in the cockpit and the impact on ground-based cellular networks. With technological advancements and rigorous testing, it is conceivable that in the future, cellular communication could be allowed in a controlled manner.

Potential Challenges of Eliminating Airplane Mode on Cell Phones

Despite the potential for relaxing or eliminating “Airplane Mode” restrictions, several challenges must be addressed. These include ensuring that passenger devices do not interfere with critical aircraft systems, establishing protocols for wireless communication on planes and maintaining the privacy and security of in-flight networks.

Some technicians have been experimenting with Li-Fi, which is similar to Wi-Fi but operates through lighting systems instead of radio signals. Whether the technology will gain wider acceptance or advance through future development remains to be seen, but it is one alternative that may have the potential for eliminating connectivity risks that require airplane mode.

The debate surrounding “Airplane Mode” generally revolves around finding the right balance between passenger convenience and flight safety. While passengers desire uninterrupted device usage, it is essential to maintain the integrity of critical aircraft systems. Even if cell phones pose a minimal risk of interfering with the plane’s radio signals, it’s better to play it safe.

Technology will continue to advance and aircraft systems will become more robust. Greater onboard connectivity and IFE options may make such restrictions less invasive on each flyer’s travel experience.

Install In-Flight Technology With Ample Entertainment Options

Rosen Aviation’s IFE technology is designed in accordance with the latest safety requirements in mind, helping ensure flyers can safely enjoy high-quality entertainment viewing on all types of private and commuter flights. Call us at 1-888-668-4955 or visit our website to give your aircraft a leg up on your competitors.