On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I urge you to sign a bipartisan letter led by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) to federal regulators supporting the current ban on voice calls onboard commercial aircraft. In addition, this letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) urges these agencies to work collaboratively to address safety and security concerns raised by the introduction of expanded wireless capabilities before they are permitted in-flight.
Earlier this year, the FCC proposed a rulemaking to expand wireless communication services onboard commercial aircraft. If implemented, this rule would pave the way for lifting the more than two-decades-old ban that currently prohibits aviation passengers from using their mobile devices to make voice calls while in-flight.
The annoyance and burden of allowing in-flight voice calls is clear: passengers will be subjected to another nuisance they simply cannot avoid. When a passenger becomes angry with the volume or content of another’s call, flight attendants will be forced to divert their attention from required safety tasks in order to mediate disputes or monitor calls. And when cabin noise levels reach new heights due to passenger use of mobile devices, important safety announcements from the cockpit or flight attendants may be missed.
In response to the FCC’s proposal, the DOT solicited public comment on how such a reversal of policy would affect passengers’ flying experience. While we were pleased that DOT recognized the disruption that wireless voice communications could pose, neither the FCC nor the DOT proposal considered potential safety and security concerns raised by the expansion of wireless technologies.
The expansion of wireless communication services and normalization of passenger use of voice communications could be used by terrorist elements to endanger flights and allow for better communications and coordinated attacks. Any potential risk that could jeopardize the security of our aviation system must be thoroughly addressed by the appropriate agencies. These concerns cross several federal agencies’ jurisdictional lines and the McKinley-Lipinski letter specifically urges these agencies to work collaboratively to address the unintended consequences of the FCC’s proposal.
To prevent the introduction of unneeded disruptions in the aircraft cabin and to ensure aviation safety and security, we urge you to sign the bipartisan McKinley-Lipinski letter. To sign the letter, please contact Cory Toth with Congressman McKinley at Cory.Toth@mail.house.gov (5-4172) or Andrew Davis with Congressman Lipinski at Andrew.Davis@mail.house.gov (5-5701).