AirCell, the Louisville, Colo. company that pioneered airborne cellular communication technology in the 1990s, has gained patent approval for a new type of communications system that will let passengers use their personal cellphones to place calls in flight over much of the U.S.
Passengers flying on the company jet may soon be allowed to use their personal cellphones to make and receive calls.
Mobile Connect is the name of a new direct-dialing service for business aircraft passengers from Stratos Aeronautical Services of the UK and Honeywell. The service provides each customer with a personal telephone and fax number that never changes regardless of which corporate aircraft they are in at the time.
Air France has started a six-month trial aboard an Airbus A318 with communications provider OnAir to provide cellphone services to passengers flying in Europe. For now, passengers can use their mobile phones to send and receive text messages,
e-mail and photos. After three months Air France intends to expand the service to allow passengers to make and receive phone calls as well.
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.
European information technology giant SITA predicts that by 2005 airline passengers will be able to make calls in flight using their personal cellphones.
Cordless cabin telephony with global connectivity at an affordable price is the promise of Belgium’s Orb’Phone, a division of Euro GSM.
Arinc and Norway telecommunications company Telenor have successfully completed ground testing of technology that lets passengers continue talking on their personal wireless phones after takeoff. The companies demonstrated the satellite-based concept at last month’s World Airline Entertainment Association conference, held September 20 to 24 in Seattle, and are holding talks with a number of airlines.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to keep in place the rule requiring passengers in the U.S. to turn off cellphones before takeoff. But the ruling might not be enough to end the debate thanks to new mobile telephone technology that is designed to circumvent traditional cellular ground networks.
Will passengers flying on business jets and airliners really ever be able to use their personal cellphones to make and receive calls in flight?