An unintended consequence of the Department of Transportation’s proposed rule banning cellphone use on aircraft could prevent business aviation passengers from using their mobile devices for in-flight voice calling. The DOT’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking is aimed at calming airline passengers who are concerned that allowing voice calling would make travel even more uncomfortable if they are forced to listen to seatmates’ calls.
In its comments on the proposed rulemaking, NBAA pointed out that there is no need to ban voice calling on “non-common carriage” flights (Part 91 Subpart K fractional operations or Part 125) as well as on single-entity charters under Parts 121, 129 and 135. “There are considerable benefits to allowing customers the freedom to make an in-flight voice call if they deem it necessary and are willing to pay any applicable service fees,” the association pointed out. Many operators have made sizeable investments in airborne equipment that allows passengers to use their own mobile devices for voice calls. “It would be detrimental to U.S. industry if the [DOT] were to render those millions of dollars of investment worthless.”