Air passengers in India can now rejoice as they can finally access in-flight Wi-Fi internet services. In a long-awaited move, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry has finally lifted the restrictions and greenlit this initiative. The Government has finally permitted airlines operating in India to provide internet access to its passengers.
On February 29, the aircraft rules have been reportedly been published after being amended which states that civil aviation passengers can now enjoy accessing WiFi on several devices such as laptops, smartphone, tablets, and more. This can be done after the pilot-in-command gives permission to do so.
“Provided that the director-general shall certify the aircraft for the usage of internet in-flight through Wi-Fi onboard subject to procedures as specified in this behalf,” the government notification read.
The rules for enabling in-flight calls and internet services via WiFi was also notified by the Indian Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under ‘Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules’ in 2018.
The Indian government had also mentioned the allowance of cellular communication during flights in the draft of the amendment in August 2019. However, as of right now, in this regard, the government has not amended the rules.
The same rule which says the pilot-in-command may allow the passengers of a particular flight to use or access cellular services only after the flight has landed and cleared the active runway is being maintained by the current amendment. However, during low visibility conditions, the flyers won’t be able to access the services.
Apart from this, as per the latest amendment, the news rules also happen to consider an aeroplane in the ‘in-flight’ mode if its external doors are shut. Also, it has been specified that the public has not put forward any objections or suggestions to the draft rules as declared by the government.
Future of Civil Aviation In India
The announcement of in-flight WiFi services now being greenlit by the government is surely the beginning of a signification revolution in the civil aviation industry. As more and more people are shifting to smartphones and accessing the internet with the onset of the digital India movement, this highly anticipated added benefit will surely encourage more people to opt for the comfort and swiftness of air travel even more.
The Tata Group-owned airline Vistara has already announced that its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft routes will feature in-flight WiFi even before this development was confirmed by the government.
The Tata Group’s National Radio & Electronics Company (NELCO) and Panasonic Avionics Corporation were sought out for partnership by Vistara to offer the said inflight WiFi services to their Indian flyers. The GSAT-14 satellite of ISRO will be used by the airline for enabling these services during the flight.
As of right now, the pricing of the services is being discussed over with Panasonic Avionics and NELCO by the airline. It has been assured that the process will be set in accordance with the Indian audience by the Chief Strategic Officer of Vistara, Vinod Kanna. He also added that the prices will be charged on the basis of the amount of data used by a particular flyer or a passenger.