No in-flight cell phone talk...for now

April 26, 2007

No in-flight cell phone talk...for now

Cell phone

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put off making a decision about allowing cell phone use aboard in-flight aircraft.

AOPA had told the FCC, which regulates all radio transmissions, that cell phones, Blackberries, and wireless PDAs could contribute to GA safety.

"Cell phones and other wireless technologies are invaluable tools for obtaining updated weather and other information in flight. And compared to hundreds of cell phones on each and every airliner, the risk of interference with aircraft avionics for the typical general aviation flight is very slight," said Randy Kenagy, AOPA senior director of strategic planning. If the FCC were to eliminate regulatory barriers, we believe technological changes would emerge more quickly."

But the FCC said that it had received "insufficient technical information" on whether airborne cell phone use would cause harmful interference to terrestrial telephone networks. And because aircraft and wireless manufacturers are still researching the use of such devices aboard aircraft, it would be "premature" for the FCC to make a decision now.

"Although it appears mobile phones are not an option yet, AOPA continues to seek innovative ways to provide pilots with access to wireless communications/data link that maximizes their ability to safely operate their aircraft," said Kenagy.

The FCC said it would reconsider the issue if appropriate technical data becomes available.

April 26, 2007