The US Department of Transportation is backing the use of mobile phones during flights across the country’s airspace meaning that US airlines will soon be able to benefit from the same levels of onboard connectivity as their foreign counterparts.
The Transportation Department’s Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection approved the recommendation saying that “if safe and secure,” the department could let airlines make their own decision on mobile phone use inflight. This could mean the end of the ban of inflight connectivity over US airspace, leaving airlines with the freedom to listen to their passengers if they wish to.
Kevin Rogers, chief executive officer, AeroMobile, a UK-based mobile service provider for the aviation industry, said it was “promising” progress from US regulators.
“Across the rest of the world, airlines decide whether to allow mobile phone use, including voice calls, inflight and we believe this should also be the case in the US. We are hopeful the FCC will rule it is safe and secure to use mobile phones inflight and lift the current ban,” he said.
For many consumers mobile connectivity is now an expectation, as blackspots in which users can’t use their phones become fewer. AeroMobile works with airline and mobile operators to provide a mobile network that activates at 20,000 ft.
It currently operates its service across 13 airlines including British Airways, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Since 2008, over 27 million passengers have successfully connected to its inflight network.
China is expected to follow the US and end its own inflight phone usage ban that currently prohibits the use of mobile phones in-flight even in airplane mode with cellular services disabled. According to the respected Runway Girl digital content platform, participants at the Jelladin China IFEC 2015 summit earlier this year said they expect regulator CAAC to revise legislation in late 2015 or early 2016.