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New Warnings Issued About Using Mobile Phones on Aircraft

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The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued a warning to airline passengers that using mobile phones during flight is still forbidden on most aircraft. Although some airlines have introduced 'mobile phone systems' on a number of their aircraft, the use of mobile phones generally remains prohibited on the majority of aircraft.

Research carried out by the CAA found that the use of mobile telephones can adversely affect navigation and communication functions, producing significant errors on instrument displays and background noise on pilot radios. Aircraft pilots have reported problems such as false smoke alarm warnings; interrupted communications due to noise in the flight crew headphones and the malfunction of aircraft systems.

A flight last year from Miami to the UK had to report problems to the CAA after the pilot reported the plane turned to the right on three occasions when directed to turn left. A passenger was seen using a mobile phone at the time the problem occurred and was unwilling to switch it off.

Bob Jones, Head of Flight Operations at the CAA, said: "The safety risks of using a mobile on board an aircraft are well-established. Yes, some airlines are currently testing various systems, but this does not weaken in any way the ban on phones being used on board the vast majority of UK aircraft."

BMI, Ryanair, Air France, TAP Portugal, Qantas, Emirates and British Airways are among the airlines currently using or planning to trial on-board mobile phone systems on some aircraft. These trials are being closely monitored by the relevant aviation safety regulators.

A study into the effects of mobile phones on aircraft was published in 2003 - the report is available on their website (pdf file).

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