Europe Allows Airline Cell Phone Usage

By Deane Barker on June 19, 2007

Europe opens the door to in-flight phoning: Good to see some progress here. Mythbusters did a segment on this last year where they couldn’t, under any circumstances, affect any of a plethora of aircraft instrumentation with a cell phone. They tried everything.

European regulators have cleared use of mobile phones and BlackBerry devices for passengers while flying, Airbus announced Tuesday.

Approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency means that, from September, passengers aboard Airbus aircraft outfitted with the OnAir system will be able to send and receive phone calls, SMS messages and e-mail messages while flying at altitudes above 3,000 meters, or 9,840 feet.

Cabin staff members will be able to turn off the system or restrict usage to text services like SMS, as they see fit.

And it’s totally free, right? Yeah.

The cost of a call, however, might make for short conversations.

While OnAir does not set the fees, Lake said the expected cost would be around $2.50 per minute for calls and 50 cents per SMS message.

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