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Mobiles 'could be used on planes'

In the future, passengers flying with airlines which use Airbus planes could be allowed to use their mobile phones during the flight.

Earlier this week (June 18th), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approved the use of Airbus' GSM on-board system.

This move represents a step forward towards a system where passengers can use their BlackBerry-type devices and mobile phones while airborne.

Passengers will be able to make and receive calls to these devices during flights. In addition, crew will be able to manage the use of these services and switch the system to only allow SMS services if they deem it necessary.

"This certification is Airbus' first response to the growing market demand for on-board connectivity," explained Rainer von Borstel, Airbus' senior vice president of cabin and cargo customisation.

"It paves the way for the subsequent worldwide deployment of cell phone services and internet based services across all Airbus aircraft types."

Initially, the service will only be available on selected short-haul services in western Europe.

Airbus produces around half the airplanes used in the world, while Boeing makes most of the rest.