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Govt allows in-flight Wi-Fi services in India: Everything that you need to know

The Civil Aviation Ministry has said that subject to feasibility in an aircraft, in-flight Wi-Fi services will be available to Indian fliers. The main pilot during the flight will have authority to turn on in-flight Wi-Fi.

twitter-logoYasmin Ahmed | March 2, 2020 | Updated 14:18 IST
(Representative image | Reuters)


  • Indian government on Friday notified that in-flight Wi-Fi can now be accessed by passengers if pilot decides to turn it on.
  • While using Wi-Fi devices like phones and e-readers will have to stay in airplane mode.
  • Wi-Fi will be provided in planes after the planes have been certified for such a service DGCA.

It took a while but finally it's here. Passengers will be now allowed to use Wi-Fi during flights in the Indian airspace as government has issued notification in this regard. The government notification says that subject to permission by the main captain, all flights will be able to switch on in-flight Wi-Fi for the benefit of fliers.

The government on Monday permitted airlines that are operating in India to provide free in-flight Wi-Fi services to passengers thus lifting restrictions on flyers. The Civil Aviation Ministry in a notification said that the passengers would now be able access Wi-Fi in the flights. But the availability of the Wi-Fi during flights will be -- broadly -- subjected to two conditions:

1- The main captain will have the authority to switch on or switch off the Wi-Fi in flights, and the captain will be required to follow certain guidelines on this matter. For example, Wi-Fi would be switched on only when the plane is at the cruising speed. During take-off or landing, it will not be available. Also, if the weather is not clear, chances are that the captain will not turn on Wi-Fi.

2- Each plane that offers in-flight Wi-Fi will have to be certified by DGCA for this purpose before fliers in it can enjoy connectivity.

The official notice by the Civil Aviation Ministry states: The pilot-in-command may permit the access of internet services by passengers on board an aircraft through Wi-Fi on board when laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode. Provided that the director general shall certify the aircraft for usage of internet in flight through Wi-Fi on board subject to procedures as specified in this behalf.

This means that the passengers will be able to stream online, on devices other than their phones.

The notice further states that an aircraft shall be deemed to be in flight when all its external doors are closed, following embarkation until the moment when any such door is opened for disembarkation.

The government earlier had allowed cellular communication during flights. However, there was no mention about the phone communication in the current notice. Vistara CEO, Leslie Thng on Friday said that their airline would be first in India to provide in-flight Wi-Fi services.

The latest notification also states that the use of mobile phones may be permitted by the pilot-in command 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 director-general."

No public objections were received where the draft rules regarding the current development are concerned, the notice stated.

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