There is an absurd rumor going around that Qantas is going to confiscate smart phones and computers at the gate to avoid the electronic contamination that some other rumors say is being investigated as the cause of the QF 72 accident.

Actually Qantas and many other airlines are in the process of cashing in on passenger use of such devices, installing pico cells that connect the Blackberrys and iPhones to earth via a satellite. And, mercifully, Qantas is following the trend and disabling voice calls from smart phones in flight, sparing us from future outbreaks of phone rage in the stratosphere.

The Qantas A380 fleet is being delivered equipped with wireless access throughout the giant aircraft for email and text messaging, with internet access to come once a few wrinkles are sorted out.

The numbers are dazzling the carriers. In theory 40 Blackberry slaves per flight paying maybe $10 a sector on a jet that does eight trips a day between Sydney and Melbourne equals $3200 extra revenue per day means an extra $1.168 million per year per plane. Of course Qantas will have to share the gross take with the satellite and the telco, but such back of the envelope calculations are making computer based smart phones look incredibly good for jets in the board rooms of airlines looking for a new source of revenue that doesn’t cost anything in extra fuel or wages.

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