Infrastructure & Environment

Bill Would Ban In-Flight Cell Phone Calls

The newly proposed legislation comes as federal regulators consider lifting restrictions on the devices.
by | December 9, 2013
 

Just as federal regulators are moving toward easing restrictions on cell phone use in airplanes, a Pennsylvania congressman is saying not so fast.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) announced Monday he plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit airline passengers from using cell phones for any type of voice communication during commercial flights.

"For passengers, being able to use their phones and tablets to get online or send text messages is a useful in-flight option," Shuster said in a statement. "But if passengers are going to be forced to listen to the gossip in the aisle seat, it’s going to make for a very long flight."

Shuster is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The bill is straightforward and comes in at fewer than three pages long. The ban would apply to the in-flight portion of domestic commercial flights. Crew members, flight attendants and federal law enforcement officials who are on the job would be exempt from the ban.

Shuster's bill comes just days ahead of a Federal Communications Commission vote Thursday on whether to allow airline passengers to use cell phones while flying.

The agency has stressed its role is only to evaluate the policy from a technical perspective and decide whether the change in policy could be made while avoiding dangerous interference. Ultimately it will be up to individual airlines to set their cell phone policies -- unless Shuster's bill passes.

In October, the Federal Aviation Administration also announced that airlines could safely expand their use of portable electronic devices to all phases of flights.

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