TECH

Airliner Flown 'Four Miles Off Course' After iPhone Interference, Claims Pilot

17/05/2013 09:55 BST | Updated 16/07/2013 10:12 BST
PA
A British Airways Boeing 777 takes off from Gatwick Airport in West Sussex as a second wave of srikes by cabin crew staff are due to begin at midnight tonight.

Every globe-trotting gadget addict knows the frustration of being asked to turn off your tech - even those that use barely any power - just before take-off.

But while the debate over the rule continues, anecdotal evidence has emerged that might make you more willing to switch off your phone before putting your seat in the upright position.

According to Bloomberg, the pilot of a regional airliner in the US has claimed that an iPhone caused its navigation systems to go "haywire" before a passenger was persuaded to turn it off.

The unidentified co-pilot told Nasa's Aviation Safety Reporting System that the incident in 2011 was a shocking demonstration of how consumer gadgets can damage navigation instruments.

The pilot's report - which can be read in full here - states that the plane ended up at least four miles off course.

"A passenger in row 9 had an iPhone in the standby mode, not airplane mode or off," the report said. "[A flight attendant] showed the passenger how to turn the phone off fully. The flight continued to destination with no further problems."

But before you leap to conclusions, it's worth pointing out that this is far from scientific evidence that the phone was the cause of the problem.

The New York Times notes that despite the pilot's "speculation" - a word they used in the original report - the phone was not proven to be the cause of the problem.

Even the American Federal Aviation Authority admits that there is no scientific evidence phones can cause problems with modern jets, and that all evidence - like this report - is anecdotal.

A recent study showed that almost a third of air passengers had accidentally left a hone on during a flight - and yet interference does not appear to be a consistent problem in the air.