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Aussie Airlines To Allow Uninterrupted Mobile Use During Flights

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the Friendlier-down-there dept.

Australia 51

Bismillah (993337) writes "While you're in coverage during take-off and landing, at least. Passengers flying with Qantas and Virgin Australia might be able to leave their devices on from as early as September this year after the Civil Aviation Authority decided it was no longer unsafe to do so."

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Wy not? (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 2 months ago | (#47745981)

Now they can sell Internet when phone calling abroad is already passé?

Re:Wy not? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 2 months ago | (#47752951)

Now they can sell Internet when phone calling abroad is already passé?

Because there's no coverage up that high.

Plus it makes it easier to sell internet services. You simply put a cell on the plane and charge for the connection to the cell (easy enough with a captive portal). Same with voice calls and SMS's.

But for the moment, QANTAS and Virgin AU dont even offer in-flight internet.

article summary is wrong (5, Informative)

The Pi-Guy (529892) | about 2 months ago | (#47746003)

The article summary is completely wrong -- it mentions "while you're in coverage", to mean that you can leave the device connected to the network.

But from TFA: "Plane passengers will be allowed to use electronic devices weighing less than a kilogram in offline mode from gate to gate without needing to turn them off. The devices will need to remain in flight mode and cannot be used for calls, text or data, however."

So, all this really does is confirm the findings that the FAA had -- small devices are reasonable to use in airplane mode in all phases of flight.

Re:article summary is wrong (3)

orzetto (545509) | about 2 months ago | (#47746163)

That is correct, but other companies do offer mobile coverage on board: I have flown with SAS planes with on-board GSM [aircraftin...tional.com] , and whereas I did not try it (waaay too expensive rates, it's the new iteration of the airplane phone) I got signal on my device.

You still have to put the device in flight mode for take-off and landing, I assume because a few hundred mobile phones moving at several hundred km/h can overload or confuse ground stations.

WiFi is also made available only when cruising over 3000 metres, I assume because the Internet connection travels over the same data channel the GSM. You can't really play Youtube over the slow connection, but checking mail and reading newspaper is OK.

Re:article summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746187)

Most of the reason for not allowing the electronics in use during landing is just in case it did cause interference. During an IMC landing it might cause the aircraft to come in to low. And there might not be enough time to correct for it. Pilots love altitude because it gives them more time and options to react to most common problems. Of course, it can be a problem if you lose cabin pressure quickly.

Re:article summary is wrong (2)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 2 months ago | (#47746307)

Airlines like passengers to be paying attention during takeoff/landing since, in an emergency, the crew might need to give instructions and don't want to have to go down the plane telling everyone to remove headphones, etc.

Re:article summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746339)

KLM allows me to wear noise-cancelling headphones, and keep them on during take-off and landing :) Which is great, because you can actually hear the PA system clearly with noise-cancelling headphones instead of just static since the engines are much louder than the speakers.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47748319)

you can actually hear the PA system clearly with noise-cancelling headphones instead of just screaming children

FTFY.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 months ago | (#47749963)

you can actually hear the PA system clearly with noise-cancelling headphones instead of just screaming children

FTFY.

No, he was right the first time. It is a question of hearing the PA announcements AT ALL, even without the engines on or any screaming babies.

This is why I simply cannot understand United's new policy of buying aircraft with NO entertainment system at all, not even one where you can just plug a headphone in so you can hear the announcements. It is a matter of cost savings over safety, and I hope it doesn't take a few deaths and serious injuries before the FAA acts to fix this problem. A couple of disabled people on the witness stand at a civil trial saying "we could have gotten off safely if we could have heard the safety announcements and emergency instructions ... and the people behind us who didn't get off at all would have made it with us."

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

hawaiian717 (559933) | about 2 months ago | (#47750897)

This is why I simply cannot understand United's new policy of buying aircraft with NO entertainment system at all, not even one where you can just plug a headphone in so you can hear the announcements.

United and other airlines are seeing the trend of more and more people bringing their own devices and using those, thus they can save several hundred pounds of weight by removing the inflight entertainment systems. US Airways did this a few years ago. Southwest never had a built-in system.

But your point about the built-in systems' ability to be automatically paused when the pilots and flight attendants make an announcement is an interesting one; something I hadn't thought about before.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746315)

I don't follow your reasoning. How the fuck could a mobile phone cause cabin depressurization? Besides, a depressurization is not a very difficult thing to deal with, as you should know. However, IF mobile phone signals interfere with flight controls and cause bizarre behaviour being at a high altitude is not much better, I'd say. In such a situation the last thing that will be on any passenger's mind is to shut offtheir phone. Assuming that they're even in a position to do so and haven't dropped it and it has slid somewhere out of their reach in a wildly moving aircraft.

I'm not in the paranoid camp when it comes to mobile phones but I do think that it's something to be more concerned about if flight controls eventually become wireless, which is not entirely out of the question. It's not an entirely insane idea because there are two significant advantages that wireless flight controls have over wired ones: 1. Substantial weight savings. 2. More reliability in case of certain structural failures. The best example of when wireless would have worked better was Qantas flight 32. The explosion tore some of the cables going to the other engine on that wing as well and thus the crew could not control thrust on it. In fact, they couldn't even shut it off. It was necessary for the fire crew at Changi airport to spray foam into the engine for over two hours before it stopped - they're supposed to fly through a fucking monsoon with no problem so that's hardly surprising...

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 months ago | (#47746847)

Wireless controls on a plane? I understand your argument, but this is simply too fucking dangerous.

Re:article summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47749489)

I'm not arguing for (or against) wireless controls on a plane. I'm recounting what is discussed in the industry but adding that IMO that is the day when mobile phones will become a serious concern. Meaning that whilst it's somewhat annoying at the moment to notice fellow passengers ignore flight crew instructions (because their stupidity affects your safety too if the plane must be evacuated), it will be a more serious matter, if flight controls are wireless. At that point I would make it SOP for the flight crew to kick a passenger using his/her phone off the plane immediately (regardless of altitude).

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 months ago | (#47750103)

However, IF mobile phone signals interfere with flight controls and cause bizarre behaviour being at a high altitude is not much better, I'd say.

It has two significant advantages. 1. It doesn't run the aircraft right into the ground as a failure on approach or departure might, given that approach and departure are when the airplane is close to the gound. 2. It gives the flight crew time to determine there is a problem, fix it, or at least mitigate it.

A flight system that has an uncommanded pitch down can kill an entire flight of people if it happens close to the ground. The same failure will shake them up, maybe break a few bones as people get tossed about the cabin, if it happens at 10,000 feet AGL, but it won't put the plane into the ground immediately. Pitch-up into a stall, same idea, better to happen at a high altitude.

It's not an entirely insane idea because there are two significant advantages that wireless flight controls have over wired ones:

Having two advantages doesn't turn an insane idea into a sane one, it only means there are different considerations that make it an insane idea. The fact that a nearby transmitter could disable the aircraft control systems much more easily for a wireless (radio) system than for a wired one makes wireless control an insane idea. The fact that it makes it trivial for an attacker to disable an aircraft remotely makes it even more insane.

But not as insane as the promo I saw last night for some new stupid TV program involving hackers saving the world. Some hacking group has disabled all of LAX's traffic control systems and none of the airplanes can land. They'll all start CRASHING when they run out of fuel if the good hackers don't save them. As if none of the pilots would divert on their own to other airports if they can't talk to LAX. They'll all just circle overhead until they run out of fuel because they're all morons or something.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

VAXcat (674775) | about 2 months ago | (#47746989)

From my flight training, two things they say you can't have too much of - runway ahead of you, and altitude.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 months ago | (#47751009)

From my flight training, two things they say you can't have too much of - runway ahead of you, and altitude.

There are three things that are useless to a pilot: runway behind you, altitude above you, and fuel in the truck.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 months ago | (#47746821)

I assume because a few hundred mobile phones moving at several hundred km/h can overload or confuse ground stations

I'd love to do it just to see the face of technician when he is called to solve the "problem".

confused ground stations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47751427)

Confused ground stations are the reason that cell phones were banned from flights originally by the FCC, not by the FAA.
In the air you are within line-of-sight range of several cells simultaneiously and they are all madly trying to handoff your phone to the next cell right after they know about it.

Re:article summary is wrong (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47746367)

The article summary is completely wrong -- it mentions "while you're in coverage", to mean that you can leave the device connected to the network.

But from TFA: "Plane passengers will be allowed to use electronic devices weighing less than a kilogram in offline mode from gate to gate without needing to turn them off. The devices will need to remain in flight mode and cannot be used for calls, text or data, however."

So, all this really does is confirm the findings that the FAA had -- small devices are reasonable to use in airplane mode in all phases of flight.

Despite the fact everyone on the plane already has their damned phone on, they are totally safe in call mode as well. If a cellphone can screw up the instrumentation of your aircraft, there's something wrong with the aircraft, not the passengers.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about 2 months ago | (#47757041)

Despite the fact everyone on the plane already has their damned phone on, they are totally safe in call mode as well. If a cellphone can screw up the instrumentation of your aircraft, there's something wrong with the aircraft, not the passengers.

It CAN screw up the instrumentation. It won't affect flight controls or engines, however, it can mess up with the radios.

You know sometimes you hear some noise in your speakers or headphones when you are about to receive a call. Pilot headsets are no different and will pickup cell phone radio noise exactly the same way. In another instance, a cell phone external battery pack leaked enough radio noise to open the squelch of a nearby portable air band radio. There are all personal experiences. And if you don't think it is a serious problem, radio interference was involved in the deadliest plane accident (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org] ). Beside communication, ILS systems (required for low visibility landing) are very sensitive instruments and I don't know how robust they are to cell phone radiation.

Well, I hope that airliners are somehow less sensitive to radio interference that the small aircrafts I pilot but still, I once boarded a plane where the pilot made an announcement along the line of "someone is using a cell phone, I won't take off before it is switched off". Meaning that it did have a noticeable effect.

Re:article summary is wrong (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 2 months ago | (#47752989)

But from TFA: "Plane passengers will be allowed to use electronic devices weighing less than a kilogram in offline mode from gate to gate without needing to turn them off. The devices will need to remain in flight mode and cannot be used for calls, text or data, however."

So, all this really does is confirm the findings that the FAA had -- small devices are reasonable to use in airplane mode in all phases of flight.

This pretty much means nothing has changed.

Singapore Airlines changed their safety video about 3 years ago to say that "all transmitting devices must be in flight mode and stowed for take off and landing". Ever since flight mode became commonplace (think old Nokia's, long before the time of Android and Iphones) it's been this way. It's only recently that the Hoi Polloi got a phone that has the capability to dick around off-line. For the business traveller, it's long since been a case of put it in flight mode and do some work.

In The States (3)

darkain (749283) | about 2 months ago | (#47746025)

We've had this in the states for a while now. Being a frequent flyer, I personally love it. I don't do a whole hell of a lot with mobile devices on the plan, other than get to my seat, turn up the music, and pass out. But it is nice to have that music from beginning to end of the trip to drown out the noise of the others on the flights.

Also something new and awesome. Alaska Airlines (and possibly others) now have USB and 110v outlets on the back of the seat in front of you. No more needing to rush to find outlets in layover airports!

Re:In The States (2)

itamihn (1213328) | about 2 months ago | (#47746037)

Icelandair has USB outlets as well. I love it! :)

Re:In The States (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 2 months ago | (#47746317)

Alaska Airlines (and possibly others) now have USB and 110v outlets on the back of the seat in front of you. No more needing to rush to find outlets in layover airports!

A KLM flight I took from Schipol to Calgary earlier in the year had USB ports on all the seat-backs.

Just a shame the in-flight entertainment system was so damned unreliable - both the flight there and the return saw my screen crash, and the air crew said they couldn't do anything about it without resetting all the screens on the plane.

Re:In The States (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746341)

Weird. I had my entertainment system crash during a Schiphol-Toronto flight and the attendant restarted only my system. Saw a cute little tux when it rebooted and I smiled a bit.

Re:In The States (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 months ago | (#47746727)

Saw a cute little tux when it rebooted and I smiled a bit.

Did she have to bend over to unplug it?

Re:In The States (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 months ago | (#47748763)

No more needing to rush to find outlets in layover airports!

I do not understand why not more companies use this as an advertising opportunity.
One place I saw this was in Madrid where they had a big screen TV with chargers under it. This ment that all those people who would be charging their hardware, would also be sitting in front of said TV.
That should be a advertisers wet dream: people who will watch your 5 minute clip over and over again.

In Brussels I saw some electrical company placing bicicles where you could charge your phone/portable while you were cycling. You can also go to the Telenet places that are intended for your PC and a (wired) connection and to be used as a selling place for the Internet service. Just plug your device in and do whatever you desire.

I understand that airports are not offfering it, because they are only interested in renting out whatever is possible. I don't understand that marketeers do not use it more often. Either provide it free or some sortr of 'marketing price'. e.g. Join us on facebook and get free energy or 'fill out this form'.

That said, I always carry a 3-way power connector [onderdelenhuis.nl] , so when I see somebody who uses a power outlet, I can ask to unplug, plug in the connector and we BOTH can charge and I can charge both phone and PC. Cost is well below 5EUR and they also come in handy in many hotels where they do not have enough connectors at the desk.

as long as ... (1, Flamebait)

thephydes (727739) | about 2 months ago | (#47746027)

the ignorant cunt next to me isn't allowed to inflict his/her loud spoken conversation on me while I'm trying to sleep/tune out/read, then that's OK with me. As soon as they allow voice calls, air travel is well and truly fucked - much like going to a coffee shop in suburbia.

Re:as long as ... (4, Interesting)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 months ago | (#47746177)

It's usually not a problem unless that person is American. See here down under we don't naturally assume everyone is an ass.

Just like here on Slashdot we don't assume the summaries are correct, or that people have RTFA which says that devices must still be in flight mode just no longer turned off, in which case I would seriously question why the person next to you is having a loud conversation with nobody.

Re:as long as ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746361)

An ass? We don't have many donkeys down here, plenty of arses though.

Re: as long as ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746547)

He understood the summary perfectly well, you just misunderstood his post. try reading it again, shower this time.

Re: as long as ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746687)

Instructions unclear, water in the eyes didn't help reading comprehension. Wouldn't recommend to a friend.

Re:as long as ... (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 2 months ago | (#47746189)

Mind it I really do not like it as much as you, however ear plugs are part of my gear international flights with which I cannot do without.

Nooooo!!! (0)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 months ago | (#47746045)

Now I have to be stuck in a plan with no escape from these people who have no phone etiquette on the ground.

After September watch for a strange increase in assaults that occur on aircraft.

Nooooo!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746069)

If someone speaks loudly on their phone during a long journey, shit your pants. Just let it all out.

The experience of shitty pants isn't as unbearable as hours next to a babbling cunt - you already know how your shit stinks - but their flight will ruined with an indelible memory for your seat-neighbour.

Re:Nooooo!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746371)

Or lean over and vomit on them. Same effect, less fallout.

Re:Nooooo!!! (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 months ago | (#47746541)

If someone speaks loudly on their phone during a long journey, shit your pants. Just let it all out.

It's an interesting idea however I think I might choose to fart instead since it still smells like shit but it won't make me uncomfortable. Besides I usually let a good steamer go before I fly so I'm usually empty before take-off so it takes a while for one, you know, to be in the chamber.

The experience of shitty pants isn't as unbearable as hours next to a babbling cunt - you already know how your shit stinks - but their flight will ruined with an indelible memory for your seat-neighbour.

Thanks for the advice. It must have been some experience to smell your own shitted pants next to a babbling cunt.

Re:Nooooo!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746217)

If you travel a lot or otherwise spend time in noisy environments where you just want to tune out, get some headphones with active noise canceling.
They aren't perfect, some noise will always pass through, but they bring it down to a level that can be ignored and slept through.
If you have loud neighbors or live in an area with much traffic noise it will really change your life for the better.

Re:Nooooo!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746881)

If you travel a lot or otherwise spend time in noisy environments where you just want to tune out, get some headphones with active noise canceling.

Or spend a quarter for some foam earplugs.

Rack of you bludgers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746087)

I don't want a bunch of sticky beaks listening to my calls!

What about Mark Bingham's mother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746117)

LOL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veCp4TygKUA

She seems very happy, talking about her DEAD SON...

Bear in mind that the second interview shown, from 1:10 ish, was made DAYS after 9/11! Does she look like a mother whose son has just died?

Oh no, 'conspiracy' theory! Mustn't think for ourselves, must we...

Re:What about Mark Bingham's mother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746289)

Some face lift procedures produce the effect that a person looks always happy. She may be full of tranquilizers and also some people report it to be a side effect for Fluoxetine (sometimes known under the name Prozac) or there's a statistical possibility that she's simply a sociopath (also there is an anatomical word used synonymously that I can't type here). I think simple explanations are more likely than that the reptiloids did that or whatever. Why are we discussing about that anyway? Oh.. planes. A plane full of clowns is cool too you know, lets discuss about that.

mile high nigger pron! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746167)

gaaaaayy niiiiigger prroooonnnnn

This will end well... (0, Flamebait)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 months ago | (#47746185)

It should take approximately no time at all for this to become an abject illustration of the adage that "Hell is other people". Definitely going to go well.

Re:This will end well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746237)

Come on people now smile on your brother everybody get together try to kill one another right now.

Safer than thou (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 months ago | (#47746575)

In the US, the ban was during takeoff and landing, for safety reasons, as there wasn't enough room for recovery efforts by the pilot.

Bans in use while cruising were FCC, not FAA, because your high speed confused and stressed the cell phone network, and had nothing to do with safety.

Not when I'm flying.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47746631)

Not when I'm the pilot (light aircraft) they aren't. Because I know that mobile phones which are too close to my Bose Aviation X cause the audio to drop out, and on light aircraft in newbie airports, its already difficult enough to fully understand and hear everything ATC says.

Safety is a decision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47747093)

"after the Civil Aviation Authority decided it was no longer unsafe to do so."

I dislike the implication that what is safe and what is not is not some observable aspect of the world but rather a decision by a government body whose members may or may not be of questionable intelligence.

That should raise the onboard homicide rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47749071)

Related question: Why are most cell phone calls made to people who are hard of hearing?

Why Not? (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 2 months ago | (#47749649)

Now they can share the call data with the US and we can have even more intel. I bet people share all kinds of juicy secrets while in the air.

Good, but not the first ones (1)

Primate Pete (2773471) | about 2 months ago | (#47751207)

Over the last two weeks, prior to August 23, I've been allowed to keep devices on during flights from the US to Asia via Europe, and back on European airlines. The airlines in the articles are not the first to do this.
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