Cell phone usage could soon be allowed during flights - KCTV5

Cell phone usage could soon be allowed during flights

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If Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill gets her way, there's a chance people could soon be allowed to use their cell phone in the sky.

The clear to turn on your electronic device is something a passenger in waiting might long to hear on a 757 and it's part of a Federal Aviation Administration rule for taking off and landing flights or when the aircraft is below 10,000 feet.

But recently, McCaskill, a Democrat, raised the question of whether or not the restriction should be lifted.

"Right now you have pilots using iPads in the cockpit. Well clearly if they are using iPads in the cockpit it certainly seems obvious to me that they are not a danger," she said in a radio conference Wednesday.

McCaskill wrote a letter to the director of the FAA asking it to consider expanding the use of laptops, computers, e-readers and smartphones.

"Any scientific basis for not allowing people to read the paper on an electronic device while in flight is very, very weak," she said.

Brian Jewell, Director of Operations with Executive Air Share, is also a pilot and flew commercial passenger jets during his aviation career. Jewell said when the FAA mandated the no cell phone rules in the 90s, little was known about cell phones and electronic magnetic interference with planes back then.

"The old technology when the days the cell phone first rolled around, the days of JR Ewing on his big brick phone, may have caused some problems with the FAA. Whether or not it was founded, I don't know, but I don't think there's been any problems over the years," Jewell said.

Jewell said technology has since advanced and today's e-tablets are helpful to pilots. But because of FAA rules, all must devices must be checked before used in the cockpit.

"We follow all the regulations, the 135.91 regulations. Once you get 10,000 feet and turn those things back on, nothing magical happens at 10,000 feet, you don't see needles swinging all over the place," he said.

It's still unclear if cell phones or e-devices cause interference. The FAA recently announced it would begin a new study.

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