According to some Chinese media reports, three major Chinese airlines have already signed deals to allow their passengers to make calls on their mobiles in the air.
There is a general consensus in the airline industry that phones should be kept turned off during flights in case their signal affects the navigation computers on board.
Some airlines, such as Lufthansa, have experimented with installing an internet connection through which mobile phones can receive text messages and Blackberries get emails, but so far only Emirates has allowed flyers to make voice calls in a limited program.
To get a mobile signal on board a plane, the Chinese companies will have to install a "picocell", or mini-mobile phone mast. The picocell relays the signals from the phone to the ground via a dedicated channel which wouldn’t interfere with the aircraft’s computer system.
The Chinese media reckons the phone calls will cost 15 yuan a minute to make. Which sounds as if the plans are relatively advanced. And that will be the end of any peace and quiet for passengers.
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