Saturday, November 9, 2013

Should Mobile Phones Be Used On A Plane?

by Carmel Brown (31st October 2013)

"Hello? I'm on the plane"

Mobile phones are an invaluable part of life these days, but even the most ardent of text addicts knows when it is time to turn off the handset. One of the main examples of this is when travelling abroad on a plane. Traditionally, mobile users have had to switch off after boarding, as the signal given off could interfere with the aircraft's navigation systems.

Today, we are allowed to keep our mobile switched on to play games and listen to music so long as they are in ‘Flight Mode’ which disables your mobile phone network and internet access. Now, however, communications regulator Ofcom has proposed that airlines should be able to install base stations aboard their fleet that will allow passengers to make calls in European airspace.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that passengers will be able to use their mobile phones and tablets from take-off to landing on all US flights, regardless of the altitude that the plane is flying at. Using your phone to make calls whilst the plane is in the air is still going to be prohibited under these new rules, however. 

But is the ability to use your phone in the air necessarily a step in the right direction? Not according to one aviation expert, who believes the "peace, quiet, solitude and tranquillity" of flying would be disturbed if we were all allowed to take calls when heading off on our holidays.

"Instead of, 'I'm on the train', we'll have, 'I'm on the plane'. I think it is actually quite nice to be away from [phones] for a while, particularly when you're going long-haul," said Laurence Price, a director at aviation consultancy Mott Macdonald. "Someone bleating into a phone for two hours is not what I want if I'm paying reasonable money to go in one of the better cabins on an aeroplane." Mr Price suggested that, as with trains, quiet areas could be introduced if Ofcom's proposals are approved.

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