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FCC scraps plans to lift ban on in-flight phone calls

Plans to allow passengers to use their smartphones mid-flight to make calls look set to be shelved.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed it is ready to scrap plans that would have allowed users to forgo those flight safe smartphone warnings and use their handsets at 30,000ft.

With the agency having been deliberating the move since 2013, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has now told the commission the plan should be completely removed from the table and in-flight smartphone usage remained on the banned list.

“I stand with airline pilots, flight attendants, and America’s flying public against the FCC’s ill-conceived 2013 plan to allow people to make cellphone calls on planes,” he said in a statement,

“I do not believe that moving forward with this plan is in the public interest. Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”

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The move was first lobbied by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler who, in 2013, suggested the lifting of the ban would be focussed on whether or not smartphone calls would cause technical disruption to a plane’s in-flight systems.

According to Pai, however, the reason to block the move is more of an emotional than a technical one.

“I fear what I’d do with my cutlery,” Pai quoted disgruntled passengers as saying to the proposed 2013 plan, claiming passengers would get annoyed sat next to someone making loud phone calls.

“Although I’m pretty sure that I could resist the urge to stab a fellow passenger, I understand these sentiments and share these concerns,” he added.

While the chairman has had his say, FCC commissioners must now vote on whether Pai’s order to permanently scrap in-flight smartphone calls should be backed or not.

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