Author

Tianhua Li

Date of Award

4-2017

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics

Department

Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Andrew R. Dattel, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Dahai Liu, Ph.D.

Abstract

Currently, passengers are forbidden from making cell phone calls during flights in the United States due to cellular electronic interference. However, some related research has demonstrated that the use of cell phones has little interference with avionics. Furthermore, any potential electronic interference can be eliminated by using new technology. Although talking on the cell phone does not cause electronic interference, the distraction of a passenger caused by a cell phone may negatively impact safety. The cell phone calls have been found to affect people’s attention and performance. In-flight announcements are popular methods to inform commercial airliner passengers of their situation and aircraft’s status. If a passenger’s attention is distracted from the announcements by the phone call, it would inhibit the passenger from being aware of important information. Nevertheless, little research is about the distraction of the in-flight announcements caused by cell phone calls. The purpose of this study was to compare the extent of safety compliance (checking seatbelts, raising tray tables) and retention of announcements among three groups: cell phone conversation, face-to-face conversation (i.e., talking with the passenger next to them), and control. Findings revealed that the cell phone group and the face-to-face group memorized less information from safety announcement and complied with safety behaviors to a lesser degree than the control group. The face-to-face group was not safer than the cell phone group on any measure. Therefore, it is recommended that lifting the ban on in-flight cell phone calls should be considered.

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