I recently read an article about 3 Italian men who were taken off a plane (before takeoff) because they refused to switch off their mobile phones, even after the captain’s and the stewardess’ 3rd warning. The article also said the captain was aware of the fact that the phones were still on because he saw interferences in some instrumentation controlling the plane’s engines.
I think this is a bit strange. 1st of all, how did the captain understand that the interference came from mobile phones on the plane? 2nd of all, assuming they were not actually talking on the phone, how did they find out whose phones were still on?
Let alone the fact that as an electrical engineer, I find it unlikely that mobile phones actually interfere with airplane instrumentation. Think about it. At home you have plenty of electronic and wireless products: dect phones, microwave ovens, televisions, computers, mobile phones and so on. And they all work together just fine; the only interference is from GSM phones to speakers with un-jacketed wires. I find it hard to believe that the engineers at Boeing and Airbus couldn’t create control systems that are immune to GSM interferences. I mean, why don’t the GSM towers around airports bring down our planes? And, just to press my case further, do you think that terrorists wouldn’t use this if it was possible to bring down a plane with a cell phone?
Now, as I was philosophising even more, my mind wandered to the fact that security is becoming more and more detached from real dangers and becoming more of what is called CYA security: Cover Your Ass. Let’s forbid phones on the planes, just in case they interfere. Let’s forbid liquids, just in case someone choses liquid instead of solid (e.g. plastic) explosives (and don’t even get me started on the 100ml rule…)
In my opinion, this is a dangerous trend. The annoyance created by these rules is small and I guess I could put up with it. The real danger comes from the fact that intelligent civilians, our best hope to identify and report threats, will become more and more convinced that this security theater is pointless and stop caring. If you want people to help you keep the world safe, you have to convince them that there is some logic behind all these security measures.
What do you think?
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