iOS 7 (Airplane Mode 001)

After the United States Federal Aviation Administration appeased travelers by permitting airlines to finally expand the use of smartphones, tablets and other personal electronics devices during nearly all phases of flight, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is now mulling letting passengers make in-flight voice calls and use cellular data when above 10,000 feet.

Current regulation mandates passengers to put their devices in Airplane mode, which shuts down all radios, thereby reducing any possible interference with the avionics.

However, only specially equipped planes will support making in-flight phone calls and accessing cellular data, should the proposal pass the FCC’s December meeting…

The Wall Street Journal has the story:

The Federal Communications Commission will propose allowing passengers to use their cellphones on airplanes, people familiar with the matter said.

While phone use would still be restricted during takeoff and landing, the proposal would lift an FCC ban on airborne calls and cellular data use by passengers once a flight reaches 10,000 feet, an FCC official said.

The FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a prepared statement that “the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” in respect to concerns that the airborne use of personal electronics could interfere with aircraft systems. The current regulation also cites potential interference with wireless networks on the ground.

Gogo, the popular in-flight Wi-Fi provider, recently rolled out an interesting feature that allows busy travelers to send or receive text messages and phone calls using their own phone number. Because Gogo’s system uses its own in-flight Wi-Fi to route VoIP calls, Gogo’s new offering requires no new equipment.

Though I’m just scater-shooting here, the FCC’s proposal would most likely require airlines  to retrofit their fleet with additional equipment.

This isn’t the first time the FCC tried to lift gadget restrictions. In a similar vein, the agency back in 2007 proposed a set of relaxed restrictions regarding in-flight gadget use. They ultimately shot the proposal down because the agency was concerned by a “lack of technical information upon which we may base a decision”.

The FCC’s new proposal will be released as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, inviting comments on the idea before making a final decision. The entire process “could take months,” the Journal notes.

Great, now I have to cope with a likely possibility of having to listen to other people’s cell phone conversations 10,000 feet in the air!

  • jack

    cant have peace from electronics even when flying

  • MH

    After flying for the Airlines and corporate Pilot think it would be a BAD discession to let people make calls during flights,as the airlines opting to use smaller jets and packing 80 in small seats is going to piss off many of the people seating next to them. I think letting text and surf the net would be just fine. On large A/C with over 300 people on board would bring a lot of complaints. The Flight Attendants have enough to deal with as it is. I know that it can be boring for hours in cramped spaces and now that you can play games and watch movies on tablet or phone should get people though few hours.

    • Ted Forbes

      I agree 100%. I hope they don’t do it, we don’t need this. But for the profit sake they will do it, they gonna do it for the big profits.

      They’ll pretend to be making us comfortable to get us on board, then they will entice us with phones and phone services. Then we will all be miserable with all the noise all around, so bad that perhaps it would be better off to just walk. This is adding more mess to an already all messed-up situation. All for profits.

  • Kaptivator

    Don’t think that this is a good idea. Not trying to listen to a conversation about nothing for my entire flight. Hopefully, they raise the prices for inflight phone communication to deter such activities. Lower wifi for games and streaming movies and txt msg.

    I really dont know what people have to talk about like that.

  • thetomthebomb

    Gogo sucks and I wish I could use cellular data to check idb posts on flights!!

  • Apanizo2

    Honestly…. I don’t want to listen to other peoples business on a plane.

  • Ever tried to make a phone call while flying at 10.000 feet hight and 470mph? I can see lot of dropped calls and lot of money for the carriers comming.

  • Ted Forbes

    I know they will do it and they will do it for the profits. Once upon a time (a very long time ago for some of us who are younger and can not remember) their use to be an area on the plain for smoking, so heres an idea.

    So they can do this again, they can reserve an area on the plane and call this class “phone booth”. This area is for motormouths, people can buy seats here where they can close the door and talk the flight away.