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Quantas, Emirates Allow In-Flight Cell Phone Use

Two international airlines have announced plans to permit passengers to use their cell phones in flight: Qanta will permit text messaging and e-mails, while Emirates will become the first airline to allow voice calls as well.Australian carrier Qantas tried out its plan for nine months on one airplane, testing passenger reaction as well as the reaction of the aircraft systems. Later this year, Qantas will expand the program to other Boeing 767s and Airbus 330s in its fleet.

Emirates, based in Dubai, conducted a similar trial last year but also permitted voice calls on a recent Airbus A340 flight from Dubai to Casablanca. The calls go through a special system on the plane that communicates with the ground via satellite and shields the aircraft systems from interference. The test went well enough that Emirates now plans to extend the system to more aircraft and add support for other devices, such as BlackBerrys.BBC News, CNET News