CAAP mulls allowing text messaging on PHL flights

Passengers on Philippine flights may soon be allowed to send text messages while in flight after the US Federal Aviation Administration cleared smartphones and other gadgets for use on airplanes

According to a report by GMA reporter Steve Dailisan on “24 Oras” early Monday evening, the FAA has concluded “most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from (portable electronic devices).”

New FAA guidelines state devices must have network connections disconnected or be in airplane mode when in use while in flight.

Devices may use Wi-Fi if the plane has a Wi-Fi system and if the airline allows its use. Short-range bluetooth devices such as wireless keyboards are also allowed.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines welcomed the ruling, and is now working on a new set of rules on the use of gadgets while in flight.

“Pilots are now using tablets in the cockpit, including computers, that is- in all phases of flight- and they’re right next to the electronic equipment of the aircraft,” said Capt. John Andrews, deputy director general of CAAP.

The CAAP is even looking at taking things a step further and allowing passengers to send text messages while in the air.

He said passengers can use text messages to send information regarding their flights to people waiting for them at the airport. Text messaging can also be used during emergencies.

“Nung nangyari ‘yung 9/11, kung hindi ‘ba nag-text ‘yung mga pasahero, would we ever know what happened to the other flight? Hindi naman nag-crash ‘yun dahil nag-text sila,” said Andrews.

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air said they have long offered Wi-Fi services to their passengers on certain flights.

Those on PAL flights headed to Toronto and Vancouver, Canada can use the internet and send text messages.

Cebu Pacific’s Airbus A330s provide Wi-Fi to passengers on flights to Dubai, Singapore, and Seoul, “as approved by CAAP”, said Candice Iyog, Vice President for Corporate Communications of Cebu Pacfic Air.

Both airlines will wait for CAAP’s new guidelines on the use of gadgets before they do a wide-scale implementation. — Rie Takumi/JDS, GMA News