It’s time to change the rules against making cellphone calls during airline flights which is outdated said federal regulators on Thursday, which drawing immediate howls of protest from flight attendants, airline officials and others. The 1991 ban began because of concerns about jamming ground stations.
Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said in a statement, the commission is proposing greater in-flight access to mobile broadband. The proposal will be considered at the commission’s Dec. 12 meeting.
“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA, and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers,” Wheeler said in a statement.
The proposal would allow passengers to make phone calls and surf the Internet on their phones, tablets and computers when aircraft are above 10 000 feet in altitude. However, bans would still be in place during takeoffs and landings.
Reaction from the airline industry and labor unions was skeptical. Flight attendants and others have worried that a plane full of chattering passengers could lead to arguments and undermine safety.
In 2004, the commission opened a proceeding that investigated whether or not to lift that ban. But the proceeding was terminated in 2007 because the evidence submitted by interested parties was not enough to convince the FCC that lifting the ban would be safe. The time has apparently come to revisit that decision.
Photo Credit: Anthony Dolce