FCC to make in-flight calls decision
An aeroplane is one of the few remaining places where you can’t hear phones ringing and people shouting into their handsets, but all this could be about to change – in the USA, at least.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it will be voting on proposals to allowing calling and texting during the cruising phase of commercial flights.
It follows a move by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to enable passengers to use their electronic gadgets, such as e-readers and tablets, during take-off and landing, after an investigation found that they don’t interfere with aircraft instrumentation.
This has prompted the FCC to review its own regulations, and it will now take on the use of mobile phones in-flight at its forthcoming meeting on December 12th.
“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” commented FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.
If the FCC votes ‘yes’, it would then be up to individual airlines to implement the rule changes and communicate them to passengers.
However, from the initial reaction to this week’s announcement, it seems that there is strong opposition to the idea.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union was particularly dismissive of the idea – claiming that “passengers overwhelmingly reject cell phone use in the aircraft cabin”. Delta Airlines expressed the same view, saying that on the basis of “overwhelming customer sentiment” it would not be implementing any rule changes, no matter how the FCC votes.
It’s not the first time the FCC has looked into changing the rules. It investigated the possibility between 2004 and 2007, but dropped the idea because of concerns raised.
In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority is reviewing the FAA’s report on personal electronic devices before deciding whether to follow its recommendations.
‘Electronic devices are now a major part of many people’s lives and naturally passengers want to use them when they fly. That desire, however, should not compromise flight safety,’ it said in a statement.