Gadget गुरू's Mouthpiece: Is "Offline" mode in Nokia Phones really "Flight" mode?
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is "Offline" mode in Nokia Phones really "Flight" mode?

This post is directed towards all frequent domestic fliers in India using latest Nokia Phones enabled with "Offline" mode. I had to write this post after my recent flight experience on IndiGo Airlines Flight # 6E321 from Mumbai to Kolkata at 9:20 am on 15th August 2008.

After standard security procedures the flight took off on time & when we were allowed to turn on electronic devices like Music Players, I turned on my Nokia 6110 Navigator in "Offline" mode & started listening to Music. I was totally not aware of the fact that I was violating any domestic flight security regulation. After an hour or so one of the flight attendant interrupted me & asked me if I was listening to music from an iPod or any Phone. When I said that it was a Phone in "Offline" mode she asked me whether it was a Nokia Phone. I immediately said yes & then started the big long discussion.

She said that I had to turn off the Phone, on which I asked her the reason. I even said that I knew that she was only doing her duties. She then said that even if you visit the Nokia web site they would not acknowledge that Nokia Phones are completely radiation free which interferes with the Flight's Navigation System even in the "Offline" mode. I then told her that when FM radio is turned on in "Offline" mode, the Phone pops up an error saying that FM functionality would be unavailable since all radio transceivers are turned off. She replied saying that since the Mobile Base Stations located on the Earth are quite powerful, the Nokia Phones keep emitting leakage GSM radiations. I temporarily accepted her theory & then presented to her my theory. I told her that her concern was that since I had a Phone connection with a specific operator there was some leakage radiation & if I would remove the SIM from my Phone the Phone would become a passive device wrt GSM frequencies. Thats because SIM is the heart of all operator specific programming. She became clueless with this justification & said that only the Captain would be able to answer my query & said that these regulations have been imposed by the government. I faced a similar incidence while traveling back by SpiceJet's Flight # SG-203 from Kolkata to Mumbai at 8:10 am on 18th August 2008.

Being a sincere, obedient citizen I immediately switched off the Phone in both the occasions & waited for an opportunity to express my grievance.

I feel my Blog would be a nice platform to share my concerns with like minded people who would read this post of mine. In the mean time I would also take up this matter with concerned authorities. I hope a technical person reading this post would be able to clear my doubts on the "Offline" mode on Nokia Phones, which is also known as the "Flight" mode.


Shubhrakant said...

I have travelled many airlines including budget airlines. I too have had similar experiences. But I have observed that budget airlines like Kingfisher Red, Indigo etc have hold ups on this issue where as other airlines like Jet airways, Air-India and all other international carriers do not have any issues. This could be due to the general profile of people flying in budget airlines. In budget airlines I have frequently seen people using mobiles because they do not understand.

In fact there was an incident when one of my co-passengers saw me switch on my PDA in OFFLINE mode and he too Switched On his low-end Nokia phone which does not have an offline mode.

I contacted Kingfisher whose staff seem to be well experienced in this. They know about all phones including the advantage of OFFLINE mode. But they express their inability due to DGCA guidelines. In fact they even sent me a link to DGCA rules. I have seen it and looks funny that DGACA rules (Very OLD) speak plainly about Mobile phones without addressing anything about offline mode. They say that anything that falls under "Mobile Phone" category has to be "SWITCHED OFF".

Next time I am thinking of telling that my HTC device is not a mobile phone but it is a "SMART PHONE" or "Personal Digital Assistant".

I think we need to take it up with DGCA.

Baudhayan Lahiri said...

Hi Shubrakant,

Good that there are awakened & enthusiastic people like you who can team up with me in fixing up such obsolete rules. Do let me know how we can take this matter forward.


Shubhrakant said...

I have found from DGCA website that we have some officials of DGCA responsible for all RTI querries. I think that will help. RTI is something which they will have to answer and that answer can act as a proof for us.