In-flight mobile phone calls do not create any problems with aircraft noise levels or passenger disturbance, a company that provides the service has claimed.
Following a recent statement from a US flight attendants’ union saying that the easing of a ban on in-flight mobile use would be “loud, divisive, and possibly disruptive”, aircraft connectivity provider OnAir said that no such situation has arisen.
The company is backing a US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) move to end the ban on the use of mobile phones on aircraft.
“Forget the hyperbole about the chaos in-flight cell phone usage could cause,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “The issue simply hasn’t arisen anywhere in the world in the past six years. An aircraft is a noisy environment, so the sound of a conversation doesn’t carry very far.
Flight attendants can also control the use of Mobile OnAir by disabling the voice element during quiet times, such as the plane’s night. Passengers can still use data – email and text messages, for example – but cannot make or receive calls.”
Late last week, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) issued a statement calling on the FCC to reconsider the lifting of the ban.
“AFA opposes any changes that would allow in-flight voice calls,” the union said. “In far too many operational scenarios, passengers making phone calls could extend beyond a mere nuisance, creating negative effects on aviation safety and security that are great and far too risky.”
The FCC is meeting on 12 December 2013, with the issue of in-flight mobile use high on the agenda. It follows the recent lifting of a ban on the use of electronic devices during aircraft take-off and landing. Voice calls however, remain banned at these times.
Mobile OnAir is currently in use with a range of international carriers, including Aeroflot, British Airways, Emirates, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. OnAir noted that voice calls currently only account for around 10% of total in-flight mobile use.