Love it or hate it — mobile phone use is now making its way onto aeroplanes while in flight.
According to All Things D, the Dubai-based airline carrier Emirates is now allowing its A380 aircraft passengers to chat on their mobile devices while in the air. The first call was made last week by using the airline's Wi-Fi service called OnAir.
Emirates is known as a tech savvy airline. In 2006, it announced that it would start letting passengers use mobile phones during flights, along with email and text messaging. At the time, the technology to make this happen was fairly clunky, because cellular signals had to be operated through a satellite system. Presumably, using OnAir's technology makes mobile phone use a bit more seamless now.
"Beginning in 1993, with first passenger satellite phone service, to last year with our A380 Wi-Fi system, Emirates has always taken the approach that providing the latest in in-flight service and connectivity is a key part of our passengers' journey," Emirates vice president Patrick Brannelly said in a statement, according to All Things D. "Emirates continues to invest in the most innovative technology possible, and promises to keep pushing the boundaries of the in-flight innovation for the benefit of our passengers."
While allowing cell phones on aeroplanes is indeed cutting edge, passengers will not be able to use their phones within 250 miles of the US. The country's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that mobile phone use is not allowed on flights.
Recently, the makers of the Boeing 747-8 said that they were preparing their "Dreamliner" for mobile phone use as early as 2013 — it will still be subject to FAA rules, however.
The FAA remains strict on yakking during flights, but it's looking to become more lax on letting passengers keep their electronic devices on during take-off and landing. In August, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that, "With so many different types of devices available, we recognise that this is an issue of consumer interest".