Airfreight: Electron based product..how to codify "in the air"

Has anyone thought about FAA compliance related to an Electron based product that could be on while in the air and how to recognize this so the cell radio can be shut off? I won’t get into the merits of this being an actual risk but I’m a rule follower and was wondering if any smart people had come up with a way to recognize this scenario and enforce compliance. Thinking of Asset Tracker type use cases…

I think step 1 would be indentifying what the FAA regulations were for Air Freight, pertaining to cellular devices. Let’s say you just check your cell phone in your suitcase but left it on.

Also, I would assume most cargo bays are plenty shielded (electrically) from sensitive airplane controls… but this is where step 1 comes back into play… not to assume.

In a passenger cabin, you’re required to put your cellular devices in airplane mode… so the easiest thing to do there would be to turn off your Electron. However, if this were really a concern on modern aircraft with shielded wiring… they would not leave it up to passengers to turn off their cell phones… how many people do you think accidentally leave their phones on? Why do I have the feeling the Mythbusters tested this?

I can’t think of a software way to turn off a cellular device prior to take off in an airplane, even an altimeter would be sketchy. If there was I think all phones would already automatically do this.

Generally, in the US, it is the shipper’s responsibility (not the air-carrier, ironically) to make sure that their cargo complies with the rules.

If you are worried about your device creating liability for you as a manufacturer of a device, check with your attorney, but I’m guessing you will be fine (along with Apple, Samsung, Nintendo, Sony… and the rest).

Seems to matter to these guys… http://www.freightwatchinternational.com/technology/products/ilc2000-flightsmartr-air-cargo-tracker

In a case where the customer is in control of the radio like a cell phone I agree…not a product creators problem but where it is a closed system designed to monitor freight and report conditions I think the manufacturer of said system would have some onus to comply. I personally don’t intend to create such a device but found it be an interesting academic challenge from the point of the creator. My lawyer who happens to be my better half says if you make it and the “owner” doesn’t have control or there is no reasonable expectation for the owner to be able to flip a switch then it is possible for the FAA to take issue.

Again…I don’t think anyone is going to take down any planes and know people don’t comply on nearly every flight in the world but an FAA nasty-gram requiring legal assistance could sure pull the speed out of a young startup.

That is a cool product.

I’m curious to know how does that particular device determine when “wheels up” and landing happens (I’m supposed to turn my phone off when the door is closed, according to the FAA).

Again it is not the “owner” responsible for compliance with FAA rules… its the Shipper (the person who contracted the carrier to ship the freight). So, how would the Carrier know what the Shipper shipped? Well, he doesn’t, but he would have a smart lawyer who saw to it that Shipper indemnified Carrier from Shipper’s actions when Shipper hired Carrier**.

Shipper should know what he is shipping. If Shipper can’t control wether the radio transmits, he ought not ship it.

I would agree that if Shipper doesn’t know that a radio is inside a device that he ships, the device Manufacturer is required to make that obvious to Purchaser… “this product broadcasts on such and such frequencies and spontaneously transmits such and such” kind-of-thing.

My guess that the FCC markings on a product may meet the test for wether that is reasonably informing persons involved in the decision to move such a device around, since that’s really all I have ever seen on radio transmitting products.

This technology does actually bring about a lot of very real concerns. Someone can turn on a relay virtually anywhere in the inhabited world from virtually anywhere in that same world… something to keep you up at night.

BTW, an employee of mine shipped a fuel-fired product via FedEx with a small amount of liquid fuel in the tank… that cost me $15,000 in fines to the FAA plus my attorney fees. :frowning: My company was the Shipper.

tracker is FAA-compliant, meaning the cellular transmission shuts
off on wheels-up of a commercial or cargo aircraft and turns on when the aircraft
lands.

My thought to do this was with an altimeter was to detect positive delta changes over short periods of time… however the pressurized cabin does mess with altimeters. I would guess cargo bays are less if at all pressurized. However a fast drive up a hill could disable the tracker possibly. An accelerometer with good averaging algorithm would be effective as well.

This is from the FAA website:

The FAA is not considering the use of cell phones for voice communications during flight because Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations currently prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones.

Here’s the FCC clause:
http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?rgn=div8&node=47:2.0.1.1.2.8.27.12

§22.925 Prohibition on airborne operation of cellular telephones.

Cellular telephones installed in or carried aboard airplanes, balloons or any other type of aircraft must not be operated while such aircraft are airborne (not touching the ground). When any aircraft leaves the ground, all cellular telephones on board that aircraft must be turned off. The following notice must be posted on or near each cellular telephone installed in any aircraft:

“The use of cellular telephones while this aircraft is airborne is prohibited by FCC rules, and the violation of this rule could result in suspension of service and/or a fine. The use of cellular telephones while this aircraft is on the ground is subject to FAA regulations.”

And a lot more info:

Maybe it could be handled by a mix of markers? Rapid acceleration followed by altitude change (GPS based). Take off on most modern jets is 140knots+, most ground based vehicles wouldn’t/can’t acheive such speed in such a short period of time.

Like I said, it’s a mind exercise for me but found it interesting and could be applicable to product creators.