Honeywell on October 10 successfully flight tested new technology that will let passengers use their personal cellular telephones in flight. The trial proved that the technology works under actual flight conditions and will not compromise safety or interfere with the ground cell network, the company said. Current FCC rules do not permit cellphone use in flight.
Similar in principal to the concepts a number of companies are testing, Honeywell’s system uses a cellular base station on board the aircraft that directs cellphones to adjust to their lowest power levels. The Inmarsat satellite network then links onboard cellphones with the standard cellphone network. The system supports voice calls and text messaging, according to Honeywell. Ingoing and outgoing calls are charged to the phone subscriber’s existing call plan and appear in the subscriber’s bill just like any other call.
Honeywell said it hopes to have the system available for installation in business aircraft within months, as well as an approved waiver for the FCC rules.