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FCC maintains ban on mobile phone voice calls during flights

Restrictions on in-flight calling were put in place to prevent interference with flight controls, radios and navigation equipment.

The FCC in 2013 proposed allowing mobile telephone conversations above 10,000 feet, adopting practices followed in Europe and elsewhere, where in-flight voice calling is more common. But the proposal led to strong and immediate pushback. 
The FCC in 2013 proposed allowing mobile telephone conversations above 10,000 feet, adopting practices followed in Europe and elsewhere, where in-flight voice calling is more common. But the proposal led to strong and immediate pushback.  (Pixabay)

The US Federal Communications Commission killed a proposal to allow in-flight voice calls via mobile phones, ending its examination of an idea that evoked fears of air rage from passengers trapped beside jabbering seat mates.

The idea drew “strong opposition” from pilots and flight attendants, the agency said Friday in a four-paragraph order.

The FCC in 2013 proposed allowing mobile telephone conversations above 10,000 feet, adopting practices followed in Europe and elsewhere, where in-flight voice calling is more common.

But the proposal led to strong and immediate pushback, with travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress and others saying they were troubled by the idea of passengers talking on phones in flight. One group raised “the potential for air rage if passengers are using their cell phone.”

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in 2017 signaled the agency would move to kill the proposal, which was created under a predecessor.

“Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet,” Pai said at the time.

The FCC’s proceeding had been moribund since 2014, drawing few comments as the agency retreated before the show of public dismay.

Restrictions on in-flight calling were put in place to prevent interference with flight controls, radios and navigation equipment. The FCC in 2013 anticipated using technology that funneled calls through an onboard system.

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