You might want to think twice the next time you’re tempted to make a call from your cell phone during an airplane flight. Or flip on your portable game player. Or work a spreadsheet on your laptop. Besides possibly annoying fellow travelers and breaking federal regulations, you might be endangering the airplane, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study that quietly monitored transmissions on board a number of flights in the Northeast. The study, by CMU’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy, found that the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices can interfere with the normal operation of critical airline components, even more so than previously believed. Researchers concluded that such devices can disrupt the operation of cockpit instruments, including the Global Positioning System receivers that are becoming more common in helping to ensure safe landings. Researchers noted that there is no definitive instance of an electronic device used by a passenger causing an accident. However, they said their data support the conclusion that use of devices like cell phones “will, in all likelihood, someday cause an accident by interfering with critical cockpit instruments such as GPS receivers.” The findings come as […]

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