Arinc is displaying its AeroMobile in-flight mobile phone communications system, which allows passengers to use their own cell phones in flight. Qantas has been trialling the service since April and feedback so far has been positive according to AeroMobile’s chief commercial officer Peter Tuggey.

The company has won Australian domestic telecom regulatory approval, as well as approvals throughout the Middle East. it is now waiting for European and US endorsement: “We had the law changed in Australia as it is illegal to use jammers on the ground. The opposite applies in the air,” Tuggey says

In order to ensure it does not interfere with avionics on board, the system effectively turns the aircraft into a flying “country” with its own robust private network. AeroMobile uses a ‘pico’ cell installed on the aircraft that locks the phones on to its network and keeps phones and other devices operating at minimum power levels. The system weighs less than 220lb.

Qantas is also examining passenger response and Tuggey says there will be little disturbance as the system can only cope with up to fourteen calls at any one time. Ambient noise will play a part in keeping disruption to a minimum and the system will only kick in at cruise altitude and be switched off when the aircraft flies into non-approved airspace.

AeroMobile has negotiated international roaming agreements with 130 key telecommunications companies worldwide, and users will be billed at rates comparable to regular international services set by their own service providers. AeroMobile is compatible with Inmarsat’s Satcom systems, as well as next generation higher bandwidth links, such as Inmarsat’s Swift64 and SwiftBroadband and Ku-band

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