If that were really the case, then why don't airlines require that the batteries be removed from devices and surrendered to the flight attendant or that the devices be placed into an RF shielded container?
Because they figure you're a grown-up and can follow simple instructions to power them off.
Everything on a plane is heavily regulated with strict testing and installation regulations - if a passenger cell phone could really disrupt the flight, do you really think the FAA would leave it up to the customer to remember to turn it off?
They don't leave it up to you to remember. They actively instruct and watch out for your usage of the devices. More often now they have to watch out for people who blatantly disregard said instructions.
For some reason I think you have the idea that disrupting a flight means someone turning on their phone and causing the plane to go into a death spiral, or somehow become a remote controlled plane. Although pretty nifty sounding, the much more simple interruption of communications with the ground is about as far as I need to go with the discussion.
On any given flight there are likely dozens of phones and other devices that have powered themselves on in carryon or checked bags
Do you have any sources for that statistic? I find that statistic to be highly suspect. I'd wager more people try to hide their interactions with their powered on devices than devices turning themselves on through bumping into other objects while stowed away.
- my phone doesn't have a removable battery and has an easily pressed power button, so most of the time I find that it's powered itself on at some point during the flight.
Which phone do you have? And if you are checking it's power state during a flight often enough to see that it has turned itself on, where are you storing it?
Regardless of that, it's about minimizing risk. Turning off electronics are a low hanging fruit for the whole whopping 15 minutes that anyone cares.
And regardless of that, unless the pilots and tower peeps come out and say, go ahead, we're all good and trust our equipment to handle whatever piece of Chinese knockoff crap you bought on the street (I'm sure they care about FCC regulations) can throw at us... then I don't see why anyone's position on removing the ban matters.
-I deal with computers... software... various things built by "professionals". No matter where you go, how highly regulated things are, you WILL have absolutely brain-dead, how did you ever get a job here, kind of people working on those projects. So having complete faith that anything works perfectly and can handle all forms of unintended interference is quite laughable. Until we have AI, and the planes are designed/built by robots, we won't come near being able to assert that, and even then we might still have a hard time.