In-Flight Cell Phone Use Moves Forward in Europe
The plight of in-flight cell phone use has been more turbulent than the last time we flew from Philly to NY in the middle of a blizzard. Airborne cell use was looking promising at one point in the US, but the FCC has been staunchly against the idea. That said, earlier this year, things started looked promising in the European Union, and now are looking even better, with regulators requesting the introduction of technology that would allow for safe mid-flight calling on European flights.
Not wanting to have to hear the babbling of your fellow passengers while you're trying to sleep through that red-eye out of LAX is a perfectly valid reason for not wanting in-flight cell phone use, but the real reason it's currently disallowed is safety. Studies have shown that phones have the potential to mess with an aircraft's navigation systems, meaning your pilot might think he's making a safe landing at a runway while actually lining up over a cow pasture. To prevent this, the system proposed in Europe would place transmitters on the aircraft themselves, allowing calls to be safely routed by the plane to a satellite and then back down to the terrestrial phone system.
The problem with this approach is, of course, that it will require the installation of hardware on planes before calls would be allowed. No estimated costs have been given at this point, but we can only imagine what sort of extra fees you'd see on your cell bill (and plane ticket) if you were, say, to pull out your iPhone mid-flight and make a few calls over Spain. We've already seen what kind of bills you can get there when you stay on the ground.
From BBC News
- In-Flight Cell-Phones a Go In Europe
- In-Flight Cell Phone Calls a Reality
- FCC Says No to Cell Phones on Planes