The European Union opened the way for air travelers to use mobile phones to talk, text or send e-mails on planes throughout Europe's airspace. Midair service may be available as soon as this year on some airlines for passengers using European GSM technology.
Under the plan, cell phone users could make and receive calls through an onboard base station. They will be allowed to turn their phones on after the plane reaches 10,000 feet, when other electronic devices such as portable music players and laptops are permitted.
The plan also sets a common standard by which passengers can use mobile phones during flights and airlines will only need to get one license that will apply across the entire 27-nation bloc. The equipment airlines install must be approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency to ensure the onboard cellular network will not conflict with other in-flight systems.
Most services that are being rolled out this year are being provided by OnAir, a unit of planemaker Airbus. (AP)