Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CellAntenna Issues Statement to the FAA Regarding Cell phones on Airplanes


Dear Sirs:

CellAntenna’s recommendation is to not allow the use of cell phones on airplanes, as cell phones are the #1 devices used by terrorists for the connection to Improvised Explosive Devices.  This use poses a definite threat to the safety of the passengers during inflight conditions where a terrorist may, through third parties knowingly or unknowingly, arrange a device on an airplane that can be detonated by a phone call received by the cell phone connected to the device.  Other forms of detonation may include the ability to explode the Lithium Ion Cobalt battery on the cell phone itself, which may puncture the fuselage.  The detonation also releases deadly carcinogens toxic Lithium gases into the plane’s air system, creating a chemical weapon.

According to our calculations, the cell phone output signal levels at full power do not pose any immediate threats to instrumentation within the cabin, since most cell phone power levels are limited to less than 20 dBm.  However, a cell phone used by the pilots may cause some interference (if any) due to the proximity of equipment.  Our findings indicate that the cell phone power levels at 1 meter from the antenna are at a maximum of -10 dBm of output power (1/10000 of a watt).  This is confirmed since many people elect not to turn off their cell phones in flight, or forget to, and to date there has yet to be a provable accident linked to the use of a cell phone on board the aircraft.

There are alternate forms of communication on board an aircraft to accomplish what a cell phone can provide.  Currently, several carriers have onboard Wi-Fi and most users connected to SKYPE services can in fact send out text messages and emails without the need of the cell phone.  As improvements to the Wi-Fi capability of equipment on aircraft progresses, calls may be placed using VOIP services without the need of the cell phone.  Therefore, the need of instant communication with the cell phone is not essential.

Should the FAA decide that cell phone use onboard aircrafts be allowed, we recommend the following precautions be introduced to limit the ability of terrorist activities:

  1. The cell phone service provider, or provider of equipment should insure that no incoming calls can be received by any cell phone used on an airplane.  This would limit the ability to remotely detonate an IED.
  2. Users of Cell phones should register their hardware (IMEI) and subscription number (IMSI) with the provider of service.  The service provider would not allow any change to the hardware configuration without registration.
  3. The use of Lithium Ion Cobalt batteries should be prohibited. Instead, a non-lethal Lithium Ion Phosphate battery should be used. This would limit the ability to detonate the battery onboard an aircraft.
  4. A failsafe mechanism should be put into place whereby the FAA / ATC / Pilot can disable immediately the system autonomously.  In times of crisis, immediate shutdown of the system nationwide can occur.
  5. The use of a cell phone in the bathrooms should be prohibited.  A simple detector can be placed to warn the pilot of this activity.  Again, this is to insure that no hidden means of using the cell phone is accomplished.

In conclusion, we believe that use of cell phones on airplanes in flight is currently too dangerous and should not be allowed.  A study risk analysis concerning the ability of cell phones to be used by terrorists needs to be undertaken prior to the consideration of this policy.

Best regards,
Howard Melamed
President / CEO
CellAntenna Corporation

About CellAntenna Corporation

CellAntenna Corporation and its affiliate, CA Wireless, provide cell phone signal enhancement services in buildings and cell phone control solutions for law enforcement. CellAntenna signal booster integration has customers worldwide and specializes in distributed antenna systems. CJAM Cell phone jamming, detection and managed access solutions are used in prisons and by other security-sensitive customers.

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