Don’t worry, Chrissy Teigen, charging your phone is not crash the plane

Globetrotter Chrissy Teigen has a major concern when flying.


To be human in the 21st century is to achieve the beautiful new technology, without ever really asking how it works.

But last week, Chrissy Teigen tweeted that she doesn’t “like charging my phone on the plane, because a large part of me feels like I’m sucking energy and power from the engine.”

I don’t like charging my phone on the plane, because a large part of me feels like I’m sucking energy and power from the engine

— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) April 12, 2017

Two aerospace engineers jumped to the rescue in the comments, tell Teigen that they don’t have to worry about the draining of the plane sap and causing everything to go haywire. And while Teigen probably meant as a joke, her tweet highlights a common misconception about how the electricity on board of a plane works.

Each engine on board of a plane — in general, commercial aircraft have two — is connected to a generator. These generators provide the electricity to power the equipment in the aircraft, from cabin to galley to seats. (The electrical system on board most commercial aircraft is an alternating current [AC] system that usually supplies the aircraft with 115 volts of electricity at 400 hertz.)

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In the case of the generator failure, all the aircraft also “auxiliary power units” is generally hidden in the tail of the aircraft. And even beyond that, many aircraft are also equipped with “ram air turbines” to provide power in case of an emergency.


Passengers charging devices don’t need to worry about the draining of power that can be used for the necessary electronic equipment in the cockpit. Generally, less than 1 percent of the power from the engines to the electrical system on board an aircraft.

And in fact, aircraft only need to have the energy produced from an engine to operate. At a given moment as both of the aircraft’s engines are running normally, there are an additional 120 kilowatts of reserve energy capacity. That’s enough to send 300 watts of electricity 400 seats in the plane — and a phone charger uses about two to six watts while charging.

So the next time Teigen has important business to take care of, while in a plane, she can safely plug-in without having to worry about the draining of the aircraft engine.

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