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No mobile calls on US flights

Intercontinental airlines such as Virgin will be watching developments within the FCC with interest

The US telecoms body, the Federal Communications Commission ( FCC ), may drop plans enabling American airline passengers to use their mobiles on flights.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin told reporters last Thursday that the wireless telecommunications industry still believes mobiles used in the air would interfere with equipment on the ground. This despite the fact that the FCC has been considering the changes since 2004 in the understanding that this was not the case.

"The record was still unclear as to whether it would create interference, so at this time it doesn't make much sense to go forward," Martin told reporters.

The US move flies in the face of moves elsewhere in the aviation business. VIrgin, Qantas, Emirates and Ryanair are all thinking of adopting in-flight technology that would enable calls to be made.

Traditionally, mobile use has been banned on planes due to claims that phone signals can interfere with sensitive aircraft equipment.