The mobile industry has reassured travellers that mobile phones don’t interfere with airplanes or ignite fires at automobile petrol stations.
In lengthy statements, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association disputed a pair of claims about mobile phone dangers that it said have received media attention:
- Airplane passengers who fail to turn off phones put the flight in danger.
- Frequencies emitted by mobile phones can spark a petrol fire.
AMTA said there is “no evidence” that mobile phones can interfere with aircraft systems from inside the passenger cabin, AMTA said. And no government regulation requires airlines to restrict use of phones, it said. Even so, AMTA advised airplane passengers to adhere to airline policies requiring phones to be turned off at take-off and landing and place them in flight-mode during the flight.
“Modern aircraft are designed to meet stringent international safety standards, including comprehensive shielding of the planes’ wiring and electronic systems,” said AMTA CEO, Chris Althaus.
“These shielding requirements are specifically intended to prevent electromagnetic interference. In fact, aircraft routinely deal with large sources of electromagnetic energy, such as high-powered airport radar systems.”
With regard to concerns about using phones when automobile drivers fuel up, AMTA stated that the “amount of radio frequency energy emitted from modern hand-held mobile phones is too low to cause a spark, which could ignite petrol fumes.”
“The concern about mobile phone use at petrol stations was based on the belief that there was a risk the battery may become dislodged and cause a spark that may ignite fuel; although, no one had any credible evidence to support this opinion,” said AMTA.
Actually, said AMTA, a person’s own body static is more likely to cause petrol fires. The association cited a 2005 report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau:
“Although the fires were claimed to be caused by exploding mobile phones, experts have subsequently revealed that not one of the incidents was associated with telecommunications equipment,” the report said about 243 reported fires around the world between 1993 and 2004.
“Instead, many of the fires were ignited by the discharge of static electricity from the human body.”
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