Mobile Phones : Using Mobiles in Flight Mode

By: Jeff Spires

Business Mobile Travel has got a lot easier now individual airlines could be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to allow passengers to use their mobiles on an overseas flight during the flight according to Communications Watchdog Ofcom. Even though Civil Aviation Authority approval is still required, some airlines are so confident of getting the go ahead that they have already started installing the equipment. Budget airline Ryan Air is leading the way; it plans to fit phone masks on about 25 of its planes as soon as possible. Meanwhile BMI intends to try out the system on its London to Moscow routes and Air France may even bring in the service over some routes by as early as Christmas 2007. But not everyone is happy about the proposed plans. Jonathan French, spokesperson for the

International Airline Passengers Association

(which represents 400,000 frequent flyers) says passengers aren't so keen. "Personally the idea of this fills me with horror and our members feel the same way" he said.

"Flying long-haul people calling passengers would have no idea off the time and phones will be ringing throughout the night." Business man Julian Jackson disagrees "People talk on planes all the time. What's the difference between talking on a Business mobile phone and talking to the person is the seat right beside you? Personally, I am always abroad on Business trips travelling overseas and my new Blackberry Mobile phone is great because it allows me to make cheap calls while abroad. The Blackberry also has silent mode, so why would that vibrating in my pocket cause anyone any problems? I just don't see what the fuss is about."

The current scheme has been developed in partnership with other EU countries and the intention is that it will cover all European airspace. They will permit mobile phone use on any plane flying at a minimum height of 3000m (10,000 feet) via an onboard base station which then connects to passengers handsets.

For safety reasons the new system would be switched off during takeoff and landing in order to prevent interference with other ground-based mobile net works. The intention is for calls to be routed via a satellite link. Passengers would be billed through their own mobile phone companies.

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