Despite stern warnings from flight attendants and pilots, we've always wondered if our iPods or cell phones could really cause an airplane's electronics to go haywire. According to a recent article in The New York Times, personal electronic devices don't always interfere with a plane's electronics -- but sometimes they do, or can, cause problems
. Clear as mud, right? Bill Strauss, an engineer who's studied the effects of electronic devices on planes, says he is worried that people continue to flout the pre-flight rule of shutting off all devices
, which are prohibited below 10,000 feet by the Federal Aviation Administration. But Strauss also told the Times that it would take a "perfect storm" for a personal electronic device to actually cause a plane crash.
Since 2000, U.S. pilots have filed only ten voluntary reports with the Aviation Safety Reporting System claiming that personal electronic devices interfered with a plane's navigational system. But, as more passengers carry newer devices that emit electromagnetic waves, airlines worry that trouble could be on the horizon. A plane's on-board electronics just can't be upgraded as often as your cell phone, so the simplest solution is to ask passengers to shut off the devices before takeoff. Better safe than sorry, right?