"Flight mode" set to disappear in Europe

8. Dec 2022
by Jim Moreton

Staying ‘unconnected’ and having to pay for slow, costly airline Wi-Fi services is due to be overturned in the European Union.

The European Commission has ruled that from 30 June 2023, airlines can provide 5G technology on flights within the EU. This will mean that passengers flying within the EU can use their personal phones to maximum capabilities — making calls and texts, downloading media and other data-heavy services — just as they can on the ground.

This move will be a complete turnaround on using electronic devices mid-flight, as passengers must turn all portable electronic devices to aeroplane mode to mitigate interference with the aircraft’s sensitive automatic avionic systems – as the legislation stands.

Airlines News - "Flight mode" set to disappear in Europe
5G changes everything!

Mobile networks use mobile phone masts to connect individual phones to a network. When that connection is lost — at altitude — the phone searches for a new network by sending out electromagnetic signals. These have been the concern of the aviation industry, as the suggestion is that they could interfere with the avionic systems.  

However, 5G technology in the EU and UK uses a different set of frequencies than elsewhere — in the US, for example — and has a much lower chance of aircraft interference.

The super-fast 5G network will connect passengers in flight directly from a land-based network to the aircraft via satellite with speeds claimed to be as high as 100mbps — easily high enough for passengers to download movies in moments.

Airlines News - "Flight mode" set to disappear in Europe

While regulators will allow passengers to use 5G, the specifics of its use still need to be clarified. However, airlines will take steps to ensure all measures are safe.

It is also unknown if airlines will place restrictions on phone calls mid-flight to ensure all passengers can enjoy a peaceful flight. Opinions on the move will be mixed, and airlines may take an individual stance on the personal usage of mobile phones.

Currently, the use of mobile phones on UK-based flights remains strictly prohibited.

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