House Panel Opposes Airborne Cellphones

 - October 5, 2006, 11:00 AM

Bipartisan members of the House aviation subcommittee agreed with chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) that the ban on the use of cellphones in commercial aircraft while airborne be continued.

“Understandably, many passengers are protective of the solace they feel when they finally reach their undersized seats and crack open a skimpy bag of mediocre peanuts or pretzels,” Mica said. “The last thing most air passengers want is to be forced to listen to their 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.”

Other subcommittee members cited social, national security and law-enforcement concerns, which were supported by a flight attendants union and a deputy assistant attorney general.

Nick Sabatini, head of safety for the FAA, said the agency has no intention of lifting its ban on the use of cellphones and other wireless devices. But he also said the FAA would consider allowing airlines to offer such services on a case-by-case basis if they demonstrate there is no interference with avionics.