Airplane Mode is something you may’ve spotted in settings, but what exactly is it? And when should it be used? Well, Airplane Mode addresses a problem caused by the growing popularity of modern electronics. The feature isn’t limited to iPhone. It’s also found on Android phones, tablets, smartwatches, eReaders, and even notebooks.
It all started in the 90s, when mobile phones became popular. Airline pilots began to hear clicking noises in their headsets. They discovered that the sound was caused by transmission signals from passenger’s cell phones. As more people brought phones onto flights, the more interference pilots heard. In response, airlines began banning the use of cellphones on planes. Forcing passengers to turn them off completely or leave them at home.
What is Airplane mode?
As phones became smarter, manufacturers were able to create modems that turned off transmission signals. Allowing them to be used on flights, without a cellular connection. This new capability was called Airplane Mode. And it’s remaining an important feature of modern devices. Since smartphones like iPhone don’t have to be turned off during a flight and can even be used with wifi turned on. Since it uses satellite signals instead of radio signals. Giving passengers access to texting, phone calls, and even video streaming while flying. This would have been unimaginable in the 90s.
But despite Airplane Mode being a federal requirement on US domestic flights, 29% of passengers admitted that they’d forgotten to enable the feature at least once while flying in 2021.And while there’s hasn’t been a recorded plane crash caused by interference from transmission signals, they do pose a serious risk. Planes have radio altimeters that measure their height from the ground. Data from this sensor is used by pilots during landing to ensure a safe touchdown. Especially when visibility is low due to fog, snow, or other bad weather. So, while it may be inconvenient, Airplane Mode is an essential feature. Allowing passengers to continue using their phones on a plane, while also ensuring the safest flight possible.