Today's News / Government Regulations / Transportation Safety

Should airline passengers get to use cell phones in flight?

DOT wants your opinion

smart phoneWhile pilots and co-pilots are prohibited from using cell phones and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) inflight, the jury is still out on whether passengers will get to wirelessly chat while en route to their destinations.

Public gets to comment

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced this week that it is seeking public comment on whether it should propose a rule to ban voice communications on passengers’ mobile wireless devices on flights within, to and from the United States. 

The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Use of Mobile Wireless Devices for Voice Calls on Aircraft gives the public 30 days in which to offer comments on whether or not a rule should be proposed.

“DOT is committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to express his or her opinion when it comes to this important issue, and this Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will give stakeholders and the public significant opportunity to share their comments,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.  “We will continue to work with the Federal Communications Commission as we carry out our respective responsibilities regarding this important issue.”

“Significant concerns”

The ANPRM is intended to address the significant concerns raised by the public, airlines, flight attendants and members of Congress regarding the possibility of in-flight voice calls on aircraft. The Federal Communications Commission recently issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that if adopted would, among other things, revise the FCC’s prohibition on the use of cellular service on airplanes. The FCC says it issued this proposal in light of the technical viability of and increasing public interest in using mobile wireless data services on board aircraft. The DOT’s request for comment would provide insight into passengers’ flight experiences that should be considered if the FCC allows airlines to choose whether to enable voice communications on mobile wireless devices.

Comments on the ANPRM must be received within 30 days of the date the notice is published. The ANPRM can be found at www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2014-0002-0001.

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