European ruling opens up the cabin for in-flight phone calls, Internet access

iPhone 5 closeup
iPhone 5 closeup (Image credit: iMore)

Through a new decision made by the European Aviation Safety Agency, or EASA, the doors may be opening up to in-flight phone calls, emails, and streaming video on a flight in Europe in the future. Though EASA had allowed the use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) on flights in airplane mode last year, the new ruling on Friday would allow these devices to remain on whether or not they are placed into a transmission-restrictive airplane mode.

EASA announced on its website:

From the 26 September 2014 EASA has made it possible for airlines to allow passengers to use their PEDs throughout the flight, regardless of whether the device is transmitting or not, i.e. in 'aeroplane mode' or not. Of course, it is up to each airline to allow the use of PEDs or not.

Though the ruling opens up the doors to surfing the web, streaming videos, and potentially even making phone calls in the cabin, the decision to ultimately open this up still rests upon individual airplanes for safety reasons.

This not only opens up devices to the use of WiFi on-board, which is present on a number of flights in the U.S., but also communications over 3G or 4G networks. According to Reuters:

The European Commission has now authorised the use of mobile spectrum for 3G and 4G communications, which allows users to surf the web and send email, when aircraft are flying above 3,000 metres.

In a statement to the Associated Press, this is how the new rules could impact the use of your technology:

We're basically opening the door where, in theory, you'll be able to continue making your phone call through the gate throughout the flight ... like you would on a train.

Source: EASA

Chuong H Nguyen