ABC got a hold of an industry study that suggests possible safety issues from the use of cell phones, iPads and other electronic devices on commercial aircraft.
A report by the International Air Transport Association, a trade group representing more 230 passenger and cargo airlines worldwide, documents 75 separate incidents of possible electronic interference that airline pilots and other crew members believed were linked to mobile phones and other electronic devices. The report covers the years 2003 to 2009 and is based on survey responses from 125 airlines that account for a quarter of the world's air traffic. Twenty-six of the incidents in the report affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear. Seventeen affected navigation systems, while 15 affected communication systems. Thirteen of the incidents produced electronic warnings, including "engine indications." The type of personal device most often suspected in the incidents were cell phones, linked to four out of ten.
Truth be told, 75 incidents over six years is not very convincing, considering there are 32,000 flights in the U.S. each day. And not all aviation experts are buying into the findings. Still, an investigation looking into the cause of that Air France crash over the Atlantic is a reminder that catastrophes are often the result of extraordinary circumstances - and a stray case of electronic interference doesn't seem so off the wall.