A study released yesterday is getting a lot of play not for what it found, but for what it might have found. Cell phones may cause problems with planes or they may not.
Media outlets are covering the event in different ways. Some are highlighting the fact that consumer electronics generate a lot of noise and that could, maybe, cause a problem. Others are focused on the ambiguity of the report.
I have to agree with the latter analysis. The guy from Carnegie Mellon essentially admitted as much.
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.”
Forget the debate over the research itself, though. I thought the worst part of this study is this little tidbit:
As part of the study, released Monday, the research team filled their hand luggage with a broadband antenna and spectrum analyzer and boarded random airplanes crossing the Northeast United States.
That sounds like a bagful of electronic equipment. I couldn’t identify a spectrum analyzer in a line-up of electronics equipment, but that sounds like the sort of gear the TSA folks might have looked twice at.
Does it make anyone else nervous that they were able to schlep this thing on to the plane?