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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 05-19-2012, 12:15 AM
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Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.21 (14CFR91.21) [Federal Aviation Regulations, FARs]
§ 91.21 Portable electronic devices.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any of the following U.S.-registered civil aircraft:
(1) Aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate; or
(2) Any other aircraft while it is operated under IFR. [Instrument Flight Rules]

(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to—
(1) Portable voice recorders;
(2) Hearing aids;
(3) Heart pacemakers;
(4) Electric shavers; or
(5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.

(c) In the case of an aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate, the determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that operator of the aircraft on which the particular device is to be used. In the case of other aircraft, the determination may be made by the pilot in command or other operator of the aircraft.
****************
The respective sections of the FARs for air carriers, charters, etc. repeat this wording.

Part (c) is what allows an air carrier to decide what's allowed. Note that there is nothing about restrictions on transmitters, altitude, landings, takeoffs, etc. Advice on these is contained in FAA Advisory Circular 91-21.1B, which explains the history and rationale for this restriction, discusses cellphones and has recommendations on when PEDs should or should not be allowed. It recommends, but *does not require*, that devices be turned off during landings, takeoffs and below 10,000 ft.

The FAA has also published "Fact Sheet – Cell Phones, Wi-Fi and Portable Electronics on Airplanes." This explains that the FCC, not FAA, has a ban against cellphones in planes.

Forgot to mention the FAA has Information for Operators "InFO 10009, Passenger Compliance with Crewmember Safety Instructions Regarding the Use of Portable Electronic Devices (PED)." Purpose: To inform aircraft operators of the need to have adequate procedures and training to help crewmembers ensure passenger compliance with their safety instructions regarding the use of PEDs.

The Advisory Circular, fact sheet and InFO are all available from the FAA website.

Mike

Last edited by kadras; 05-19-2012 at 12:41 AM.. Reason: Reference to FAA document
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Old 05-19-2012, 3:58 PM
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Originally Posted by VE5JL View Post
I was on a United flight and a 'attendant' noticed I had a scanner. He was very adamant that I shut it off because they had comms on channel 9 like you mentioned. I had it in mind that these little 'gods' would love to cause a scene so they can make the world safer against al-qaeda.
Cut them some slack. The FA's could not care less if you dont buckle up or return your seat back the 2 inches you reclined it. What they do care about is the guy sitting next to you could be an FAA inspector ghost riding and she has no idea...it is happening A LOT these day especially because of all the mergers. When two carriers merge the FAA considers them a carrier in distress and is all over them inspecting their ops. If a FED sees her not enforce a regulation, no matter how silly, the airline gets fined and she gets fired on the spot. If that happens in LA and she lives in boston, she has to buy her ticket home, so dont blame her for forcing you to follow the rules...its her job.


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Originally Posted by kadras View Post
Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.21 (14CFR91.21) [Federal Aviation Regulations, FARs]
§ 91.21 Portable electronic devices.....
.....(5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.

(c) In the case of an aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate, the determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that operator of the aircraft on which the particular device is to be used. In the case of other aircraft, the determination may be made by the pilot in command or other operator of the aircraft.
****************
The respective sections of the FARs for air carriers, charters, etc. repeat this wording.

Part (c) is what allows an air carrier to decide what's allowed. Note that there is nothing about restrictions on transmitters, altitude, landings, takeoffs, etc. Advice on these is contained in FAA Advisory Circular 91-21.1B, which explains the history and rationale for this restriction, discusses cellphones and has recommendations on when PEDs should or should not be allowed. It recommends, but *does not require*, that devices be turned off during landings, takeoffs and below 10,000 ft.

The FAA has also published "Fact Sheet – Cell Phones, Wi-Fi and Portable Electronics on Airplanes." This explains that the FCC, not FAA, has a ban against cellphones in planes.

Mike
You are missing one big part of the puzzle here. When it comes to air carrier operations(part 121), the carriers operating specifications must be approved by the FAA, and once approved become regulatory in nature, carry the full weight of law and supersede conflicting FARs.

An airline cannot just arbitrarily decide to allow what ever PED they want. The must, at their own cost, do extensive testing to prove to the satisfaction of the FAA that the device does not cause any interference. Then submit that data to the FAA who then reviews and validates the data. Once that is done, the Carrier may then amend its operating specifications to allow the PED and submit the amendment to the FAA for approval. When/If the FAA approves the amendment it then carries the weight of FAR and the airline can issue an alert-bullient/manual update.

91.21 and its associated AC are deceptive in their wording because of the 121 OP-spec/FAA relationship. Even though the process is initiated and carried out by the airline on their dime and in their name, the FAA still makes the decision on approving the PED via approval or denial of the amended Op Specs...The FAA also the one having enforcement authority of violation of the op-specs. For example, if the airline decided to allow the ham operator to bring his Icom onboard and hunt HF DX from FL450, the FAA will laugh and say no. By not approving that amendment to the op-specs the FAA is, by decfacto, prohibiting that PED.
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Old 06-05-2012, 4:49 PM
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I flew from Seattle to Florida in Feb.. on Alaska Airlines they allowed you to get on the internet from 30,000 feet. They have a lot of on line scanners you can listen to
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Old 07-05-2012, 4:48 PM
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In the real world of radio physics how much internal-radio oscillator signal ever escapes - let alone propagates through the metal shell (read: rf cage) to the outside of the airplane then into the antenna and then into the receiver in the cockpit?

Has anyone ever seen a study that proves this has ever occurred with modern devices? If it sounds absurd, that's because it is. A device that contains a transmitter is a different story entirely.

The FAA policy is either a)antiquated/pseudo-science, or b)is designed to simplify things so that fight attendants don't have to sort transmit-capable devices from receive-only (I get that).

Meanwhile, my limited experience indicates a broad range of attitude and enforcement, so be discrete and follow specific instructions and all should be well. IMHO, YMMV ...
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:05 PM
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Interesting thread. Usually I fly within Europe but recently I've flown to Australia and Mozambique and I've never saw any list of approved devices. Have you guys ever saw one outside the US?
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:48 PM
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This topic gets unearthed from time to time. Having flown both domestically and internationally for many years, I turn off my scanner while boarding and leave it off until I disembark. Most airlines do enrforce the "no radios" edict and they have every right to do so. Sure, you can get into it with the flight crew but you will lose or get booted off if you don't comply. Is it really worth it to create a scene?
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kd4e-1 View Post
In the real world of radio physics how much internal-radio oscillator signal ever escapes - let alone propagates through the metal shell (read: rf cage) to the outside of the airplane then into the antenna and then into the receiver in the cockpit?

Has anyone ever seen a study that proves this has ever occurred with modern devices? If it sounds absurd, that's because it is. A device that contains a transmitter is a different story entirely.

...
Actually all superhet receivers contain a transmitter, it is the rf oscillator. The wiring to the cockpit passes through the overhead in the passenger compartment. Much of the US airline fleet is made up of aircraft that are 20 or more years old, at the time they were constructed the rf shielding requirment was quite different and it was never considered that the passengers would be carrying a plethora of rf emitters. Is this a real hazard? Yes, IMHOP, will an aircraft have to crash before self-apponted experts admit that their comments "might" apply to the latest well shielded 3 year old aircraft but NOT to the 20 year old DC-9 which Delta flies daily into my nearest airport.

IEEE Spectrum carried an article several years ago showing the results of a battery operated spectrum analyzer which, with special permisson, was allowed to run and record during an actual cross country flights.

My first personal alert to these hazards was by a radio amateur and his wife who were both United Airlines captains and were trying to raise the awareness of the public to the dangers...it is NOT just an arbitrary rule by old fogies who 'don't get it'

LEP
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:58 PM
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Just turn it off when it's time to turn it off. Don't overanalyze the science . See so many still playing solataire with the iPHONE during take off. Why is following simple rules so hard for people sometimes?
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Old 07-20-2012, 3:59 PM
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Is the genuine scientific evidence of a real world vulnerability published anywhere?

It sure would make sense to explain the why rather than merely presenting it as yet-another arbitrary bureaucratic rule. Especially in a culture where rebellion against the arbitrary exercise of authority is rapidly expanding.

I follow the rules as presented but always resent people, whom I am paying, treating me like an ignorant rube.
(Ran Mode On: It's bad enough dealing with depts of motor vehicles who require citizens to waste 4.5 hours waiting for the opportunity to show two pieces of documentation to a bureaucrat then getting their picture taken for an ID. It is equally frustrating for the FAA to order the airlines to treat citizens like dummies.)

BTW: The old cockpit radios were eliminated a few years ago and required, by the FAA, to be replaced. Presumably one of the features of the new radios was better resistance to sub-microvolt interference. If not then we may add that to the long list of FAA failures. And if not then it should be simple to document the problem and to publish the findings for citizens who wish to be informed vs ordered about. It should never be left to conjecture - as we have found in this thread. The rules should be followed, of course, but in an open society every rule should have an open explanation.

IMHO, YMMV ... :-)
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Old 07-20-2012, 5:45 PM
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Because people can be a holes and have a "I am a paying customer mentality". That, and I basically think fundamentally we do not like obeying rules and polite requests. Civility is almost a lost art.
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Old 07-20-2012, 7:30 PM
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In a slight tangent because, as Sargeant Schultz would say, I know nothing... what about using a smartphone's GPS and/or standalone apps (e.g., Nook) in flight? I assume one would turn off the wireless portion of the phone? I understand the smartphone would have to be near a window and everything off in taking off and landing.. Thanks.

As an aside, to track my daughter's DEN-SAN flight today, I just grabbed the FlightAware app for the Android phone Works great!
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Old 07-20-2012, 8:30 PM
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I don't see what you could or would want to hear gong 500 mph in a plane. I remember listening to a walkman on AM/FM as a kid and hearing radio stations for a minute or so before they drifted out. Aside from hearing the aircraft comms, it seems like a lot of trouble to go through to hear a transmission from a fire department or police department in some town.
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Old 08-09-2012, 6:07 PM
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Having done it all which includes an attempted cell fone call from a private jet, here is my 2¢.

Unless your flying over an area where there is a common frequency, i.e. Texas DPS bases for instances, you will never know who you are listening too because of the aircraft speed, Farmington PD or Lamesa PD.

For FM broadcast, you may get 8 minutes you approach and leave the source, then its search for the next strong signal.

I've never had an issue with using my Garmin on an AA or SW flight although I think SW says you cannot use them. For me, I get more "entertainment" watching the Garmin screen change and seeing the name of the town in the distance or the lake just below. But later on there is something about looking through the GPS and seeing the max speed noted at 500MPH.

But unless you try scanning at 30000 ft, you won't have the experience. Give it a shot and tells about what you found. NOAA broadcast might be the right idea especially if you can catch the signal when they identify.

For the frustrated navigators, I carry my old Boy Scout compass and use it when I'm flying into/out of somewhere I've never been. The flight attendants see it sitting on my leg and can't say anything. It's got no on/off button. If they do, I reply frustrated navigator. But its nice to have when you circling around because of weather, esp at night.

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Old 02-16-2013, 12:07 PM
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The last few commercial flights I was on, seemed like a lot of people were using their iPads and such throughout the flight checking email and web surfing.

They were obviously using either 3G or LTE since US Airways Express CRJ-200s don't have onboard WiFi.

I think the WiFi on my Kindle was left turned on (oops). My iPhone was in airplane mode but not turned off since the lock button is broken and you have to plug it up to external power to turn it back on.

We all arrived safely. I'd be curious to see how much electromagnetic radiation comes from the passenger cabin of a current flight - no one ever said anything about airplane mode and I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't even know what it was.
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Old 02-21-2013, 7:37 PM
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Here is my thoughts from both a pilot perspective and the scanner listening side.

I have tried using a scanner on flights before, I say don't bother, you will not hear much at all. It is more trouble than it is worth. I was able to hear a little from the aircraft I was on when the pilots were transmitting but I never heard another aircraft or a controller the entire time in the air. Like I said, don't waste your time.

Regarding cell phone etc, when I am out and about flying VFR I occasionally don't turn my phone off (not required to) same with a passenger or student. Sometimes I can hear the buzzing or beeping from the phone such as when receiving a call over the intercom or radio. Annoying yes but not a major issue otherwise.

I have made and received calls and text messages or used the internet while in the air, but you usually have to be below 5000' above the ground, once you get above 6 or 7 thousand feet I no longer get a signal at all. So I highly doubt anyone could be using 3G or LTE at 30,000.

In short, listen to the flight crew and don't bother trying to use a scanner (or cell phone for that matter) on your commercial flight. I have read many instances of false indications and such as aircraft descend to a lower altitude where a cell phone gets a signal again.
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Old 02-21-2013, 7:56 PM
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YEARS ago (like 15), I brought my scanner on a flight and asked the pilot if it was ok for me to use it during flight. He asked if it was a transceiver, which I said it wasn't. He told me to just keep it turned off during takeoff and landing. It was kinda cool hearing a transmission here and there, but, like a poster above put, you have no idea what municipality you're listening to.

I also used the scanner on a rail trip into NYC. Every now and then you could pick up the engineer getting track condition updates from automated transmitters down the line.
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Old 02-22-2013, 4:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterK33 View Post
YEARS ago (like 15), I brought my scanner on a flight and asked the pilot if it was ok for me to use it during flight. He asked if it was a transceiver, which I said it wasn't. He told me to just keep it turned off during takeoff and landing. It was kinda cool hearing a transmission here and there, but, like a poster above put, you have no idea what municipality you're listening to.

I also used the scanner on a rail trip into NYC. Every now and then you could pick up the engineer getting track condition updates from automated transmitters down the line.
I haven't bothered to try to listen to scanners or radios while in flight, but I can guarantee you that it's done and planes haven't screwed into the ground because of it. General aviation pilots use everything from GPS devices to cell phones to laptops and tablets to ham radios to airband handheld radios all the time, and commercial pilots who insist that their plane will go into a tailspin if you turn on the wifi search on your tablet are full of ****. Furthermore, I'm certain that the number of people who "forget" (either genuinely or on purpose) to turn off their phones during flight is greater than zero. If this caused legitimate problems, there would be published, measurable proof, not just "we don't allow it, trust us on this". Another example: Cell phones were banned for decades from hospitals because they were "surely" harming medical equipment. In the past few years that has gone away. Why? Partly because both medical equipment and telephones (etc) have been improved and are highly unlikely to truly cause problems, partly because people saw the lack of logic in banning the public from using devices that the doctors themselves were using with no restrictions. In other words, even if it was true in the 1970s and 1980s (that phones wreaked havoc with heart monitors and IV pumps), it's not true now.

As people say, though, it's doubtful you'll find anything of interest to scan from that high up, and even if you are interested in the air comms, you're only going to hear your own aircrew and perhaps one or two craft that happen to transmit while they're close to you.

But anyway - I took a couple of scanners with me when I took the train across Canada a few years back. (Passenger rail in Canada is a dying breed and nothing like you have in the USA not to mention Europe.) Rail comms were plentiful but various conventional and trunk systems were just as prolific - I detected and decoded a bunch of systems nobody had put in the RRDB before. As I said, rail travel in Canada is pretty shoddy - we got to our destination 23 hours behind schedule - so there was plenty of time to scan the bands while staring at the woods while stopped off a siding in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 03-03-2013, 2:16 PM
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Sorry, but this and every other post that says that it is not illegal and only an airline policy issue is completely incorrect. It is not the airline but the FAA that mandates ALL electronic devices be off during taxi, takeoff landing and flight below 10,000 feet. Further, anything that emits or receives any signal cannot be on at any point during the flight (again, that's the FAA, not the airline.). The exception being aircraft that have wifi installed and are TSO'd for wifi operation.



My advice, do not argue at all with a flight attendant ever. If it gets to the point that she/he/it comes up front to bring the problem to me, I dont care what the issue is or who says what, the mouthy passenger is getting thrown off my jet in a heartbeat.... you will lose that battle.

Here is the deal, it is not illegal to BRING any radios, scanners, ect on the plane with you. It is illegal to turn them on while on-board the aircraft. There are reasons the law is that way. Is a scanner gonna cause the plane to crash? no. do I care if someone, unknown to me, monitors coms during the flight? not in the least. Do I care if the Cart Donkeys are complaining in my ear about some tool in the back who is breaking the law and wont comply with their instructions, yes I do. Moral is: Dont get caught. If you do get caught, plead ignorance and politely do as your told.
Cart donkeys? Nice way to treat your coworkers. :rolleyes
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Old 03-03-2013, 2:35 PM
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The last flight I took (LAX-SEA via LAS) I had my scanner in my carry on. We made it from LAX to LAS and shortly before take off there was a mechanical error which kept us on the plane at the gate for 3 hours. The flight crew wouldn't say more than "it's a mechanical issue and we will be departing shortly." I had the Southwest 400MHz freqs programmed in and was able to hear everything going on and current ETAs for completion of the fix. I never tried listening while in the air.
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Old 03-03-2013, 3:05 PM
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There are also the problem if the scanner is damage in some way or not working well could cause interference.

I think there was past threads here or on yahoo groups of scanners causing interference when listing to fire or police .

Normally scanners don't cause interference but signal overload of scanner or scanner that damage or not working well probably can.

I'm sure the radio tech guys here can explain this much better than me.
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