BMI has announced its letting passengers use their mobile phones on flights, but only to text.

Passengers on BMI's Heathrow to Moscow service will be able to make use of technology from OnAir that allows them to use their handset to send text messages during a flight. Owners of laptops with mobile broadband sims installed will also be able to access the web during the flight. BMI is one of a number are airlines that are trialling mobile phone services during flights.

Previously, mobile phones were been banned on airlines because it was thought the signal from handset interfered with the aircraft's instrumentation. However, new technology that allows a transmitter to be installed at the back of the aircraft will connect with the mobile phones using a lower strength signal that will not affect the craft's instruments. It was approved by the European Commission in April this year.

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BMI has said it will roll-out the service across its fleet, if the trial proves successful.

"We have chosen not to implement the voice call option as part of the trial," said Peter Spencer, managing director of BMI.

"The trial will help us address some of the social and etiquette issues regarding the use of mobile communications devices inflight and provide valuable customer feedback which will be at the heart of deciding how the service is developed and rolled out across the remainder of our mid haul fleet."

Charges are dependant on mobile phone operator and are not subject to a cap on roaming charges, which has been proposed by the European Commission.

See also: Ryanair installs mobile phone technology on aircraft