has made a bold, and somewhat controversial (see: Airline
Passengers Say No to Inflight Mobile Phone Use), move in becoming the first
major airline in the world to commercially launch an inflight mobile telephone
service, giving those customers who want to be reachable in the air greater convenience.
The first authorised mobile phone call made from a commercial flight was made
Thursday at 30,000ft enroute to Casablanca, onboard an Emirates Airbus A340-300 aircraft - the first in the airline's fleet to be equipped with the AeroMobile system.
airline will be investing some US$27 million to fit its fleet with the AeroMobile system which ensures that passenger mobile
phones operate at their absolute minimum power, thereby allowing their safe use on the aircraft. A second Emirates aircraft, a Boeing
777-300, has already been installed with the AeroMobile system and will be in operation very shortly.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group
said, "All seats across our fleet are already equipped with in-seat phones, as well as email and text messaging capabilities via the in-seat entertainment system.
"As the world leader in innovation for our customers, we are delighted to now offer them the choice of using their own mobile phones to
contact friends, family or colleagues while flying with us. Our customers are already making more than 7,000 calls a month from our in-seat
phones, so we will be making life easier for those for whom staying in touch has become an important part of their everyday lives."
Over the past 18 months, Emirates and AeroMobile has worked closely with regulators and telecommunications providers across the globe,
fully completing rigorous testing and certification processes.
The service will only be activated when the aircraft is at cruising altitude and the cabin crew will have full control over the system, including
the ability to prevent voice calls at certain times such as during night flights. The number of calls that may be made at any one time is also
limited to a maximum of five or six calls, the same number as for the current in-seat phones.
Emirates cabin staff and information videos will advise and encourage passengers to switch their phones to silent
/ vibrate mode when
used in the aircraft.
In addition to calls, the service will also allow passengers to send and receive text messages, with charges in line with premium
international roaming rates. Users will be billed on their regular phone bills by their own service providers as with any other roaming call.
Emirates and AeroMobile will be working to add further features
such as the ability for BlackBerry-type email and other GPRS data applications later in 2008 and also to integrate AeroMobile with Emirates'
inflight entertainment system.
On aircraft where the AeroMobile system is not installed, existing rules banning the use of mobile phones by passengers remain in force at
all times. Mobile phones must remain switched off for the duration of the flight in accordance with current aviation regulatory
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Passengers Say No to Inflight Mobile Phone Use