Little to say for myself

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

In-flight Safety

Does it strike anyone else as odd that airlines are so trusting of their passengers that they rely on their goodwill to switch off their mobile phones to avoid interfering with the plane's navigation system? They never check whether you have actually done it.

This isn't consistent with their extreme conservatism as regards safety in other matters. There was the freak accident in 2000 when an Air France Concorde picked up a bit of debris in a tyre on take-off (that had fallen off a previous aeroplane), which flew up and punctured one of the fuel tanks and caused the plane to blow up. They grounded the whole fleet and fitted the equivalent of bulletproof vests to the tanks to stop it happening again. As if it would.

There's the silly business about the life-jackets, which have never been used. There's the insistence on dispensing plastic cutlery, to avoid the risk of a terrorist passenger managing to carve his way through the bullet-proof flight-deck door with a stainless steel butter-knife (incidentally, they'd better hope there are no terrorist groups emanating from Glasgow, because those full-sized wine bottles in club class would make a much better weapon than a Swiss Army Knife).

So this laid-back attitude towards mobile phones is odd.

  • Is it that mobile phones don't actually cause the problems that the airlines make out, but they would just prefer that people pay to use the on-board phones?
  • Shouldn't the navigation systems be modified so that they are NOT susceptible to such interference?
  • Is there a potential terrorist threat from the deliberate use of phones during the flight, now that the in-flight cutlery has been rendered harmless?
  • Would it be possible to introduce a scheme for the temporary confiscation of phones during the flight?
  • Are restrictive and expensive safety measures only taken in response to actual disasters, as a marketing exercise to lure scared passengers back?
Perhaps when some on-board lovelorn teenager's surreptitious text message causes a plane to fly off course into a hillside they'll change their tune.

posted by Plig | 15:25 |

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