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GPS disabled in flight mode

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Article Metadata
Tested with
Devices(s): 6700 Classic
Platform(s): Series 40 6th Edition
Series 40 6th Edition (initial release)
Created: schoenke (18 Jul 2009)
Last edited: hamishwillee (15 Jun 2012)


On the Nokia 6700 Classic (S40 6th Edition), the GPS service is disabled in flight mode, even if "Internet-A-GPS" is switched off.

The documentation says that "all active connections" are disabled in flight mode. But "pure" GPS (i.e. without network-based assistance) does not transmit anything - it's just a receiver.


This topic is in discussion for other mobile platforms as well. Here's what I found out in a superficial internet research:

Some manufacturers claim that GPS has to be disabled in flight mode due to FAA regulations, but this is doubtful as there's no technical reason and many airlines (including renowned airlines like Delta, KLM or British Airlines) explicitly allow GPS in cruise flight.

A number of platforms like Windows Mobile and Android seem to allow GPS in flight mode. On the iPhone, GPS is disabled in flight mode but there're many petitions for Apple to change this.

Here's a number of reasons I picked up in other forums why GPS should be available in flight mode:

  1. People want to track their flight path on their vacation trip to visualize it later on in Google Earth
  2. A GPS device is especially helpfull for navigation in remote areas with little or no GSM coverage and limited power supply (e.g. hiking, sailing etc.). Flight mode is used to switch of the useless transmitters eating up the battery.
  3. People want or need to use the GPS in areas where high-frequency transmissions are not permitted for other reasons (e.g. areas where wireless microphones are used)
  4. The mobile phone is intended to be used as a backup GPS in the general aviation domain.

How to reproduce

Just start any location based application while in flight mode


There're several options to choose from:

  1. Allow (unassisted) GPS flight mode, as it does no harm anyway
  2. Provide a configuation option to let the user decide whether GPS is on or off in flight mode
  3. Provide two flight modes; one with and one without GPS

In any case, a solution should be provided quickly, as this might be a deciding aspect - for buyers and developers alike!

This page was last modified on 15 June 2012, at 02:07.
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