Despite studies that show cell phones may be a hazard on flights, it looks like cell phone use may be allowed onboard anyway. Air France has allowed OnAir, a company in Europe, to equip one of its future planes with GSM technology. It will be an Airbus A318, used to conduct a six-month commercial test, starting in March 2007, for short flights to and from Europe and North Africa. According to The Register, the testing period will be only for data services such as text messaging and data applications; voice testing will come later.
This news comes six months after Boeing and UTStarcom managed to successfully utilize cell phones on both CDMA and GSM networks over Connexion, Boeing's in-flight Internet service provider; Connexion is available on many international flights, but it has yet to see approval here in the United States. According to Connexion by Boeing, it plans to have in-flight cell phone usage available in commercial flights (in Europe at least) as early as this year. However, it's unlikely that cell phone use in commercial flights will be allowed in the United States anytime soon, thanks to FCC regulations.
Note to self: When traveling in Europe, don't forget to pack a pair of noise-canceling headphones.