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Ofcom approves mobile phone use on flights

Plans subject to EASA and CAA approval

Aircraft passengers may soon be allowed to use mobile phone during flights, if plans from regulator Ofcom are approved.

Ofcom has been examining proposals regarding mobile phone use on aircraft since October last year and is also working with other European Union countries so calls can be made in European airspace.

Mobile phone calls have previously been banned because the signal from handset to a mast interferes with the aircraft's instrumentation. New technology, however, allows a transmitter to be installed at the back of the aircraft which will connect with the mobile phones using a lower strength signal that will not affect the craft’s instruments.

Under the new guidelines, passengers will only be able to use their handsets once the aircraft reaches a minimum height of 3,000 metres. Mobile phones will not be allowed to be used during take-off and landing.

See also:

Mobile phones in the air: plane madness

The plans will have to be approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) but BMIand Emirates are among the first carriers to offer in-flight calls.

"The safety of passengers is paramount and mobile systems on aircraft will only be installed when they have secured approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK," Ofcom said in a statement.

"If such approval has been secured it will be a matter for individual airlines to judge whether there is consumer demand for these services."


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