If the thought of self-important loudmouths using their cell phones at 35,000 feet sends shivers down your spine, you can rest easy, at least for now. As CNET's News.com reports, the Federal Communications Commission today ended a two-year investigation into a ban on in-flight cell phone use that dates back to 1991. The agency said it hadn't received enough technical information to prove that using cell phones and other gadgets while aloft doesn't interfere with an aircraft's navigation and communication systems. The FCC could revisit the issue but didn't say when it might do so. A second study by the Federal Aviation Administration, which already supports the ban, should conclude later this year.
I welcome the news (and I don't think I'm alone here) that in-flight yakking will remain a no-no. For some people, flying is bad enough without the potential of being forced to spend several hours in a metal tube crammed next to someone who can't keep quiet (remember that scene in Airplane! where the old lady hung herself?). And while I love to fly, I'm not so crazy about flying with people. We already have to deal with armrest thieves, overhead bin hogs, and passengers who act like they're going to die when forced to check their bags. So can you imagine cell phone use, too? I think not.
I like spending a few hours in a place where no one can reach me. And while I think the take-off and landing ban of MP3 players and cameras is excessive (I'm one of those aircraft "spotter" geeks), I hope the ban on cell phone use remains in place for some time. I don't know enough about avionics to claim cell phones won't interfere at all, but better safe than sorry for the moment--especially at 35,000 feet.