Cell Phone Tricks for Pilots

Few pilots consider how handy their Cell phone can be when it comes to their flying. Here are some neat tricks to help you get more out of your Cell phone while flying…

IFR Pilots – Use your Cell phone while on the ground to obtain your departure clearance at airports without a RCO. This allows ATC to fit you more quickly into their flow, since they know you can go right away.

How: Taxi to the departure runway run-up area, take a position that will not obstruct other traffic and call for your clearance. By calling Flight Service and obtaining your clearance in this manner, you will be ready for immediate departure.

VFR Pilots – At airports without a RCO, you can use your Cell phone to open or close your flight plan with Flight Service. Using your phone in this manner will provide you with takeoff to landing coverage, and will usually help avoid the usual rush to find the local phone booth.

Rules for ALL Pilots – Remember, unless it is an extreme emergency (imminent risk of loss of life, comm / electrical loss in IFR conditions for example), the use of a Cell phone other than an approved airborne phone system while in flight is prohibited.

Why: Cell phones operate by line of site with their towers. If you are flying at an altitude of 3000 feet above the ground, you will ‘light’ up dozens of towers with your signal. This is a violation of FCC regulations.

Caution: A standard Cell phone can disrupt the instruments in your aircraft — frequency harmonics may coincide with the operating frequencies of your navigation or communication systems.

BOTTOM LINE: Your Cell phone can make your IFR and VFR departures — and emergency response — better than ever before. Recognize the limits and you will be able to safely use your Cell phone to make your flying easier and more efficient.