BA listens to the voice of reason
On 1 July, British Airways (BA) will become the first European airline to relax regulation on using mobile devices on a plane.
Following feedback from customers, BA will allow passengers to switch on their mobile phones after the aircraft has landed. Previously, it would only allow mobile device use when the plane is standing outside the terminal.
The new guidelines, approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, will apply to all BA planes, but there will be no changes made to the take-off procedure. The airline will not use any kind of specialised equipment to deal with alleged interference.
In 2012, Virgin Atlantic became the first British airline to permit calls on some of its flights.
Phones on a plane
Use of radio wave emitting devices on planes has been restricted by various aviation authorities around the world for decades, due to potential interference to the plane’s navigation and communication systems, as well as disruption to cellular towers on the ground.
However, a direct link between mobile phones and actual interference with aircraft systems has not been scientifically proven, and some experts say that the blanket ban remains in place to enable the sales of expensive in-flight phone services.
From the beginning of July, BA will allow its passengers to switch on their smartphones and make calls, as soon as the plane has landed and is off the runway. In time, this move could convince BA’s competitors to adapt a similar position and pave the way for mobile calls in-flight.
“Customers will no longer have the frustration of having to wait until their plane has arrived at the terminal building before being able to use their mobile phones and other handheld electronic devices,” said Ian Pringle, BA flight training manager, told the BBC.
Meanwhile in the US, the Federal Aviation Administration has admitted that the rules introduced way back in 1966 have become obsolete, and is currently working with technology experts to draw up new, less restrictive guidelines.
Some doubts remain as to whether it’s really necessary to allow mobile calls inside a plane. A survey published by flight price comparison website Skyscanner in May 2012 claimed that 86 percent of respondents thought the drawbacks of listening to other people’s conversations outweigh the benefits of making a call at 30,000 feet.
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