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April 25, 2013

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Passenger held for calls during flight

A CHINA Eastern Airlines passenger was arrested yesterday for making a call from his mobile phone when the aircraft was descending and forcing the aircraft to ascend again.

The pilots of flight MU2641 from Changsha in the central Hunan Province to Wenzhou in the east Zhejiang found the navigation of the EMB-145 aircraft interrupted by mobile phone signals when they were about to land at the Wenzhou Airport, the Shanghai-based airlines said yesterday.

Crew members found a passenger making phone calls.

The flight attendants then asked the passenger to switch off the phone as the aircraft prepared to land on the No. 21 runway at the airport, a pilot wrote on his microblog.

China Eastern said the passenger has been handed over to police.

The incident has sparked a heated online discussion with some people questioning why mobile phones should have a flight mode built in it if it cannot be used during a flight.

China's civil aviation authorities said although many mobile phones have the flight mode, they have to be switched off under regulations during a flight to avoid signal interference.

Zhou Jisheng, a local civil aviation expert, said the regulations ban the use of all mobile phones, irrespective of the modes. He said crew members cannot punish violators but they can turn them over to police.

Authorities said although the flight mode theoretically reduces signal interference in the cockpit, they have not been tested for its effectiveness on various phone models. The best way out, therefore, is to ban the use of phones to prevent accidents.

In August 2011, a woman passenger from central China's Hubei Province was fined 1,500 yuan (US$243) for refusing to turn off her mobile phone on a flight and watching videos on her handset.

After landing, the passenger was handed over to police by the flight crew.


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