Making cell phone calls during flight passes safety test and awaits for approval, 15 yuan per minute

| June 25th, 2010


From Sohu: news, Beijing. According to the news reported by Voice of China “Peak Evening News” at 17:39 on June 24, Air China cabin service department vice-president Wang Xiaolun said, some passengers need to be constantly reminded by the flight attendant to turn off their cell phones before the plane takes off, this indicates people’s need of communicating with the outside world (when on a plane). Achieving communication via cellular phone in above 10,000 meters altitude will become an effective way to attract travelers and to provide satisfactory services for the passengers.

At the China Air Transport Association and airline in-flight communications seminar, three China’s major airlines already signed contract to develop in-flight communication software with mobile operators. Once approved by the government, passengers can freely make phone calls on the plane, and the charge will be around 15 yuan per minute.

Today when we reported this, users are very excited because most of them believed that the reason mobile phones are not used during flight is due to safety reasons. But it turns out the cell phone signal cannot reach above 10,000 meters in altitude, as long as the technology enables this talking on the cell phone during flight is possible. “The flight now reaches high altitude; please keep your cell phones off.” This classic phrase used on flights could become history.

26 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. gone says:

    Hmmm, as I know, cellphone signal can interfere with instruments and radio communication. Especially during taking off and on. Th

  2. Gary says:

    Let’s take all electronics safety considerations aside: People from all countries, Chinese included, turn into obnoxious jerks when talking on cell phones in crowded spaces. Especially the people who miss the point of a phone and think that a far away person needs to be yelled to so they can hear you from such a distance. Allowing everyone to bark into their cell phone while trapped in a plane for several hours would be a preview of hell.

    It also screws with the cell towers since instead of a phone at ground level being able to connect to three or four towers a cell phone in a plane over a city might get a signal from a hundred towers. Then the switching logic gets confused by the plane’s speed. In a car on a highway it might take a minute or more to go through one tower’s coverage before your call needs to get passed to the next one to keep your conversation uninterrupted. At 550mph in a commercial plane it might take 5 seconds.

    Finally, while cell phones don’t interfere with a lot of the systems on planes some of them do operate on frequencies near the ground height radar that tells the pilots when the rear wheels are about to touch down. Doesn’t matter when cruising along at 30,000′ but interfering with this measurement during landing can be the difference between a soft touchdown and feeling like the undercarriage coming up through your seat cushion.

    • Vonskippy says:

      “some of them do operate on frequencies near the ground height radar ”

      And what exactly would those frequencies be?

      Lots (and lots and lots and lots) of stuff operate in the lower spectrum – we’re firmly in the “electronics age” and the spectrum can be a very crowded place.

      That said, playing the “interference card” is sheer bull hockey. Airlines want Cell phones off for one and only one reason – money. No cell phones mean you MUST use the way over priced phone service provided by the airlines. There is NO technical/engineering reason to shut off electronic devices.

      If electronic devices were so deadly – then terrorists wouldn’t need to worry about packing in high explosives into their shoes, they’d just bring aboard a GameBoy and bring down the plane with it’s oh so dangerous electronic interference.

      Man, it’s sad when the average person is so stupid about basic science they’ll believe everything they’re told without even thinking about it.

      • Gary says:

        “Man, it’s sad when the average person is so stupid about basic science they’ll believe everything they’re told without even thinking about it.”

        It’s even more sad when the average internet forum poster asserts someone they’ve never met is stupid.

        “Airlines want Cell phones off for one and only one reason – money”

        I’ll see your “stupid” assertion and raise the assertion that you’re just a commie who hates private companies, lol.

        • keius says:

          He’s got some points and so do you. His basic reasoning is correct though. The airlines “primary” reason for no cellphones is money. Ask anyone in the airline industry. It’s common knowledge and accepted by their own employees.

          There are some safety concerns. These are for the most part theoretical. The airlines haven’t been able to prove squat about actual dangers posed by cellphone use. If they could, don’t you think they would??? The only studies out there are those that have pretty much proven cellphone use is ok. You are right about cellphones (in the air) playing havoc with cell traffic on the ground though. Current systems can normally handle this fine though. It’s a matter of degrees. This is documented, proven, and well, it’s common sense if you have the technical background. I do have a little background in networking and cell technology.

          The safety issue is understandable. The airlines and the FAA are doing the smart thing. They are “covering their *sses” in case something does happen. Typically corporate behavior.

          My personal take:
          Can you imagine half the passengers chatting nonstop trying to talk over each other on a cramped, stuffy, noisy, plane? I was on a 3.5 hr flight once. Person next to me was on the airlines system chatting for what must’ve been half the bloody trip. I guess if you want to be a noisy irritating *ss, you have to pay the airlines for the privilege. A ban on cellphones is ok in my book. If they have to use a lame duck excuse, i’m all for it.

  3. Key says:

    Don’t forget the 15 yuan per min charge, I think it’s a perfect way for the airlines to make money… that’s the real reason I see.

  4. Colin says:

    People dont “need” to be on their cell phones all the time. Whenever a plane touches down here in no more than 10 seconds you can hear the cabin full of the sound of people’s phones coming on. This is not a need to be connected, its just people being a bunch of jackasses.

  5. GuoBao says:

    “Air China cabin service department vice-president Wang Xiaolun said, some passengers need to be constantly reminded by the flight attendant to turn off their cell phones before the plane takes off, this indicates people’s need of communicating with the outside world (when on a plane)”

    No, this indicates that Chinese people generally are some anti-social assholes. Okay. maybe not generally but there sure are plenty of them around. Just from flying in China I’ve noticed that some people refuse to put on the seat belt, pretend not to notice the flight attendants when they are asked to turn off their phones, walking around in the plane while it’s taxiing and waiting for take off, carrying 4-5 bags onto the plane, putting stuff under and in front of other people’s seats. Man,, this list is too long. I’ve seen a stewardess almost in tears just trying to get the nong mins to sit down.

  6. Jay K says:

    gees. if this became a law in the usa..i would go crazy..i want to sleep and stray in peace not lsiten to tohers yelling and talking loudly in the plane! i dont mind talking loudly in a chinese restaurant because those are the norms, but as a person who lives on the road for business trips…i dont want to hear you screaming or talking loudly about how worthless your day was jsut so you can have big face to others. 妈鼻!

  7. malagebi says:

    Great, another annoying thing Chinese can do on airplanes….

  8. Crystal says:

    I believe that what can interfere with electronical devices is not the frequency of telephones, but the high-pitches of Chinese yelling on phones.
    I am myself always afraid when listening to the record of my own voice 🙂

  9. AL says:

    I was not aware that mobile phone signals were available on a flight ? is there a height where they are ok and not ok to get a signal ?

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