[RFI] cell phone interference to airliners

Jim Jarvis jimjarvis at verizon.net
Thu Mar 9 04:20:36 EST 2006

This thread went astray earlier, devolving to boxcutters and hijacking.

I'm going to summarize, because there is annecdotal value in the piece:
The subject IEEE article finally surfaced...the authors being an EMC expert,
an astronaut/pilot/PhDEE, and a professor of electrical engineeering.  They
used a portable spectrum analyser in a small carryon, on 39 flights,
with airline cooperation.  They could clearly identify cellphone calls,
and determined that between 1 and 4 such calls are made per flight.

They express concern that rfi to the GPS band, 1200-1500MHz may cause a
problem.  The core reason is GPS-interfaced, autopilot-coupled landing
systems.  These are routine equipment on newer jets.   Concern
they could offer no interference data, and only two annecdotal references,
both outside their study.

One, on page three of the article, is from general aviation, where a pilot
observed that a particular Samsung phone caused his GPS to lose satellite
The other, on page 4 of the article, was a DVD player which caused a 30
GPS driven navigational error.  DVD off, error went away.  Turned back on,

The conclusion of the article:  there MAY be a risk from otherwise approved
FCC/FAA emc standards for emissions are set too high.  The data demonstrated
cellphone use,
not interference.  The conclusions were speculative and intuitive in nature,
from a credible source.

jimjarvis at ieee.org
jimjarvis at verizon.net

More information about the RFI mailing list