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Will In-Flight Cell Use Fly?

May 16, 2008 10:45 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The European Union has approved cell phone use on airplanes. There is no sign that decision will be echoed in the United States soon.

30-Second Summary

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The EU’s approval means airlines will be able to launch onboard cellular services later this year that are specially designed for safe in-flight use.

Several airlines, including British Midland Airways, Portugal’s TAP, Ryanair and Air France, have already expressed interest in offering cellular service for a fee.

One exception is Germany’s Lufthansa. It cites surveys suggesting that a majority of customers don't want to share a plane with people talking on their phones.

"People don't want to be disturbed," said Lufthansa spokesperson Jan Baerwalde.

Lufthansa isn’t alone in worrying about bothersome in-flight calls.

Justin Mann writes for TechSpot that “once people are allowed to make calls, and excessively noisy passengers start to annoy those sitting nearby,” the problem may prove a larger challenge than the technical problems of assuring a good phone connection on a plane.

However, this is a problem customers on U.S. flights don’t have to worry about—at least not yet.

Last year the Federal Communications Commission suggested holding off on lifting the in-flight calling ban in the United States because of the possibility of interference with aircraft operations.

But can a cell phone really bring down a plane?  ABC’s “20/20” asked that very question in December.

Bill Strauss, an electromagnetic interference expert, explained that cell phones “emit strong radio signals that could cause false readouts on an airplane's navigational equipment.”

However, a plane crash has never been attributed to cell phone use.

Watch the AP coverage of the EU’s decision to allow cell phone use on airplanes.

Headline Link: 'European Regulators OK Use of Cell Phones During Flights'

Related Topics: No cell use on U.S. carriers, but wi-fi coming soon

Opinion & Analysis: No more peace and quiet

Railway commuter takes cell phone etiquette too far

Reference: The FCC and resources for business travelers

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