"Hello? Hello? Yes, I'm on the plane!" This sound may soon be coming to an aircraft near you. Airbus, the European aeronautics giant, has signed a new deal which will give companies buying its A380 superjumbos the option of letting customers use their own mobile phones on board.
Other planes from both Airbus and Boeing may, in the longer term, also be able to use the system, which could be used for voice and data calls. However, the moves are still some way off, apparently: US approval for the move isn't likely for some time, although a deal is close to being struck in Europe.
Chiefs with OnAir, the company behind the move, say many airlines have already shown initial interest. It was suggested some airlines might bring in new "phoning" areas - as were used for smoking on planes before that was banned. Pilots would also be able to switch off voice calls during "night" on the flight.
But it's likely many people might be priced out of the market for the service: international calls would cost $2-$2.50 a minute; a text message 50c to send or receive; and internet access up to $30 a flight.
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