In-flight Cellphone Use Creeps Closer

Business Jet Traveler » August 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007 - 5:00am

Even as the FCC and FAA continue to find reasons not to approve in-flight use of personal cellphones, European authorities apparently have no such qualms. At the Paris Air Show in June, mobile telephony service provider OnAir announced that the European Aviation Safety Authority has certified the airborne GSM equipment that supports OnAir services for use on the Airbus A318. It will allow passengers to use BlackBerry and similar hand-held devices. [GSM-for Global System for Mobile communications-is the most popular standard for cellphones in the world.-Ed.]
Following certification of other parts of the system (including its Thales TopFlight satellite communications terminals), the first service will become operational later this year on an Air France aircraft. An OnAir spokesman said the company, a joint venture with Airbus, currently is not targeting business aviation or the U.S. market, but that "it is coming."

Separately, France-based Thales announced that later this year a TopFlight terminal will be installed on a new business jet, which the company declined to identify. The terminal initially will be a voice-over-Internet-protocol system (VOIP) to avoid the country-by-country regulatory approvals barrier that the GSM services have to surmount.

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““When I made the film The Invention of Lying, they gave me a private jet for getting back and forth between New York and London. I thought, ‘I will never use it’ but I ended up using it every weekend. You turn up, right, and the airport is completely empty. I mean, there’s just someone at the desk and then the pilot, who says, ‘Are you ready to go?’ and you say, ‘Don’t you want to see my passport?’ and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I suppose I’d better.’” ”

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