London, March 21: Dubai-based airline Emirates has announced that it has become the first airline in the world to launch an in-flight mobile telephone service on a commercial flight.
The first calls took place on Emirates flight EK751 flying between Dubai and Casablanca in Morocco following the installation of an AeroMobile system. The system, which allows passengers to use their personal mobile phones during flights, was given approval by the European Safety Agency and the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority after a year of tests.
The airline said that it plans to extend the system to more aircraft and later this year will add BlackBerry and other data services.
Emirates said that the mobile service will only be activated when the aircraft is at cruising altitude and the cabin crew will be able to supervise and control the use of the system.
It also said that though passengers will be able to receive and send text messages, the crew will be able to prevent voice calls at certain times, for example during night flights.
Passengers will also be requested to keep their phones on "silent" mode, the airline said.
"We have gone to considerable lengths to ensure that all safety and regulatory issues have been fully addressed", BBC quoted AeroMobile Chief Executive Bjorn-Taale Sandberg, as saying.