We all know flight mode drills during a flight. We are instructed to either switch our phones off or put them on flight mode for our safety while flying. Well, that is about to change for those flying in Europe.
Why do we switch to flight mode during flights?
This was a rule brought forth by FAA, a switch from the usual switching the phone off entirely during a flight. The new guidelines by FAA were released, explaining that passengers can use their gadgets as long as they are in flight mode. Only in cases where there is a possibility of the plane’s system failing to tolerate interference from your gadgets, flight attendants will ask you to switch them off completely.
Activating the flight mode on gadgets meant switching off cellular networks, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The reason for this activation was to not disturb the pilots in the air. Gadgets emit signals. As you leave the ground and your gadgets are on, they will try to connect to surrounding cellular towers, and those signals are frantic and strong as your phone desperately tries to keep a connection.
And the sound that is emitted from the phone is often heard in the headphones of the pilots, and that is instrumental to the lack of proper communication between pilots and the control towers that they have to be in constant touch with. Some phones are old-fashioned and will send out signals as strong as the plane’s frequency.
As your phone is busy trying to connect to every tower your flight path is on, it will drain its battery very fast. Your phone being active also guarantees your distraction, and you might miss an important message before take-off. You may not want to, but sometimes it is good to be focused on your surroundings, and getting offline for a flight would be good for you.
Taking a digital break can also be a benefit for you. Some may have thought this an exaggeration of safety given no plane had ever fallen because of a phone, but it is a necessary regulation nevertheless. While the cabin crew these days use iPads and other gadgets for storing information and other things, it is still unwise to leave gadgets active because it’s not every gadget available to man has been tested and approved by the authorities and some have capabilities of disrupting the plane’s system.
However modern aircraft have allowed Wi-Fi to be used after the plane is 10,000 above sea level. This has been a good change as you can send emails, watch content, and work while traveling. The Wi-Fi is not free, you’ll need to pay to get it, and in poor weather conditions, when the plane is passing through some areas, it will cease to work properly. Interestingly, changes are still being made and recently there has been news of doing what has always been impossible since air transport became a norm.
Europe’s change in flight mode
Well, technology is improving every day and the European Commission is part and parcel of many changes. The European Union is planning on serving frequencies of their new 5G network and passengers can use their phones from the air.
There is now a specific frequency band for the latest 5G that the European Commission will enable and it will ensure that the phone calls made won’t be disturbing the plane’s electrical devices and passengers will be able to keep their phones on at all times during the flight.
However, the network will depend on favorable conditions and will only work at low altitudes. And if the plane’s pilots demand phones to be switched to flight mode, they will have to go to flight mode.
The decision of airline authorities to start allowing passengers to be connected, text, and make calls in flight will be authorized by the European Commission. There will be the employment of special network equipment called a “picocell” which is used to connect the earth and a plane’s network through satellite.
Cost of in-flight calls
This new feature, helpful as it is, is not free. Just like plane WiFi, you have to pay to access calls and text messages on your phone during flights. Airlines and communication companies will fix a certain fee amount for the service as it will go further than flying locally.
If you’re flying out of your country to another in the EU, there will be a special rate that will be charged. This is because it will involve connections to networks from other countries, which will mean a need for roaming costs.
As well, airlines will have to pay hefty prices for the equipment investment. The equipment will be used to allow terrestrial mobile networks connections with the plane during flights.
Before flight mode was introduced, people had to go through the pains of not using their gadgets during flights, however long or short as staying connected is considered a flight risk and can cause serious problems for a plane that is in the air.
The flight mode was introduced and you could have your gadgets on, albeit with limited access to them. Then the introduction of WiFi during the plane’s made it easy for passengers to be working while traveling, even if this had a few challenges to it.
Now Europe has taken the lead and is one step ahead with the introduction of in-flight calls. This also has challenges, but with time the kinks will be worked out and the system will be flawless. Technology is Changing things for the better.
Apart from planes, the European Commission has been planning on and introducing road transport innovations. Wi-Fi with 5GHz frequency bands will be able to be available in motor vehicles like buses cars and other modes of transportation. According to the European Commission, it will start running in June 2023 at the latest.