Brussels (Belgium) – The skies over Europe are sure to get a lot louder. The European Union has approved in-flight cell phone use for all of its 27 member nations. Under the new rules, phones usage will fall under the same rules as regular electronics meaning passengers can’t yak on their phones during takeoff and landings. In addition, the flight crew can disable phone usage at any time.
An on-board base station will relay phone signals to either a satellite or ground towers. The EU says the signals are completely safe and won’t interfere with flight navigation systems.
So far the United States Federal Aviation Administration has no plans on allowing in-flight cell phone usage which brings up an interesting sticking point. What happens when European carriers enter US airspace?
There’s also a business competition angle to this as the Open Skies Treaty, which allows any EU carrier to flying to a US destination, and vice-versa, recently took effect and this could nudge the US government into allowing calls on flights. European carriers could have an unfair advantage over American carriers as people who just can’t ditch their cell phones would presumably flock to the likes of British Airways, Lufthansa and other EU airlines.
Of course the exact opposite could happen. Passengers could avoid phone-friendly airlines like the plague. After all, airplanes are one of the few places in the world that you can escape that annoying Nokia ringtone.