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Originally posted by robertfenix
I was under the impression that most modern aircraft that fly domestic routes and some international routes actually have a type of cell site repeater equipment in the planes aviation electronics package. Its part of the system the FAA uses for tracking and control of the aircraft, the higher bandwidth allows handoff data to be streamed back and forth from the aircraft.
By using a cell phone on the plane at the same time as an active transmission during a handoff could delay the intercept data to the new ground center causing a momentary "loss of position" of the aircraft until the signal is received clear enough. A long converstation that prolongs the intercept of the position data to the new control center could put the plane and passengers in harms way if the new controller can not pinpoint its converging location with another aircraft.
At least that is what I thought the main reason why Cell phones were not allowed in flight. The skytel system uses a dedicated transmission channel that is at a different feq then the ground tracking channel.
Originally posted by Zaphod58
The FAA use a transponder system to track planes. It sends out a code that is received by radar that displays on a radar screen.