Flyers may not need to turn airplane mode on their smartphones or other electronic gadgets. In the coming months, it will no longer be mandatory on flights in the European Union (EU). The European Commission ruled that airlines offer 5G technology on board planes, alongside slower mobile data. In this context, the deadline for member states to make the 5G frequency bands available for planes is 30 June 2023.

What does this mean? It means that flyers can use all their phone’s features mid-flight, enabling calls. Plus, they can use data-heavy apps that stream music and video. It would enable innovative services for people, helping European companies to grow. The 5G-enabled new system will be able to offer much faster download speeds, which according to mobile network EE can be over 100Mbps. Thus, a film can be downloaded in a few minutes.

In the US, some individuals have expressed concerns that 5G frequencies could interfere with flights. Moreover, it can even potentially lead to erroneous altitude measurements. However, Dai Whittingham, chief executive of the UK Flight Safety Committee, said this is not an issue in the UK and the EU. Mr. Whittingham highlighted that there was much less prospect of interference. He reiterated that they had a different set of frequencies for 5G. Plus, there were lower power settings than those that have been allowed in the US.

Furthermore, Glenn Bradley, Head of Flight Operations at the UK Civil Aviation Authority – the regulator responsible for the safety of aircraft within the UK highlighted that the use of mobile phones to make calls was prohibited on UK airlines unless the aircraft had been equipped with an approved mobile phone control system.

Mr. Bradley added that they understood that the plans to enable 5G onboard flights would operate in the higher frequency bands and, therefore would not interfere with aircraft systems. Ultimately, he highlights their readiness to work with the industry to assist in delivering this innovation.