Could the days of having to turn your cell phone off when flying be nearing an end? Aircraft manufacturer Boeing seem to think so. It's begun the process of outfitting new models of its 747, 777, and 787 airliners with hardware to allow incoming and outgoing calls, with the aim of making them available to airlines by 2013. It even has a kit in the works that will let airlines upgrade existing 787 jumbo jets to support cellular calls.
Boeing joins European aircraft maker Airbus in offering planes boasting built-in cellular technology. Virgin Atlantic began allowing cell phone calls onboard its Airbus A330 jets during transatlantic flights earlier this year.
While this technology sounds like a boon for air travelers who've long awaited the ability to make calls while flying, they shouldn't start celebrating just yet. Whether or not you'll be able to fire up your phone in-flight still depends on the approval of government agencies such as the FAA who'll have the final call on, well, calls from 30,000 feet. For its part, the FAA is still dragging its heels when it comes to allowing the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing, so it could be a while.
More from Tecca: