FAA Trumps FCC On In-Flight Cell Phone Use
The FAA says it will continue to uphold the ban on in-flight
cell phone usage for commercial passengers, even if the FCC decides
to lift its own ban.
"Let me be clear: Regardless of the FCC proceeding, the FAA's
rules will remain," Nicholas Sabatini, FAA associate administrator
for aviation safety, testified before the House aviation
However, Sabatini qualified his position by saying, as wireless
technocrats unveiled communication devices that don't interfere
with avionics, the FAA may change its collective mind.
Then there's the Department of
"Today's terrorists and criminals use cellphones, among other
communications devices, to coordinate their illicit activities,"
said Laura Parsky, deputy assistant attorney general. Like
Sabatini, she was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Terrorists could "coordinate by cellphone between a terrorist on an
aircraft and an accomplice on the ground, among hijackers located
in different sections of the cabin of the same aircraft, or even
among attackers traveling on different aircraft."
None of these views takes into account the opinion of hapless
passengers who don't want to be stuck sitting next to Mom going
over the grocery list with Junior.
"The last thing most air passengers want is to be forced to
listen to the neighbor chat on their cellphone about their
ailments, dating problems, the latest reality TV show or
up-to-the-minute estimated time of arrivals for the duration of the
flight," said aviation subcommittee chairman, Rep. John Mica
(R-FL), also quoted by the Journal-Constitution.
During Thursday's hearings, cabin crew representatives also
chimed in. Crew members "fear the impact on cabin operations of
increasing numbers of passengers testing the tolerance" of those
around them, said AFA President Patricia Friend. Even now, as
passengers are increasingly allowed to use cell phones before
take-off and after landing, "incidents of air rage are on the
rise," she said.