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wi-fi MCA

Government permits Wi-Fi on flights, use of portable e-devices

wi-fi MCA

The government has allowed the use of portable electronic devices and access to internet services by passengers in flight through Wi-Fi on board.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation notified the amended Aircraft Rules in the official gazette on Friday.

“The Pilot-in-Command may permit the access of internet services by passengers on board an aircraft in flight, through Wi-Fi on board, when a laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode,” said the notification.

The aircraft offering internet service will have to get a nod from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The notification further added that the pilot-in-command may permit the use of cellular telephones by passengers of a flight after the aircraft has landed and cleared the active runway, except when the landing takes place in low visibility conditions as may be determined by the DGCA.

The earlier version of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, 29B, prohibited the use of portable electronic devices such as voice recorders, hearing aids, heart pacemaker, electric shavers or other portable electronic devices.

According to the latest notification, the above-mentioned e-devices do not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be operated.

Interestingly, the final Aircraft Rules omitted the term ‘mobile communication’, which was mentioned in the draft rules published by the government on August 14, 2019.

The draft rules notified last year did not receive any objection from the stakeholders, the notification added.

Meanwhile, last month Vistara, a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, has announced that it will offer in-flight wi-fi services in India.

It will be the first company to provide this service in the country.

Currently, no Indian carrier has a Wi-Fi facility on board.

Last year, the government had given Flight and Maritime Connectivity license for in-flight connectivity in India to Hughes Communications India, which is a subsidiary of US-based broadband network and services provider EchoStar.

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