Rockefeller: Agencies should consider banning calls on planes

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) asked two federal agencies to consider banning cellphone calls on planes.

In a letter to the heads of the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Transportation, Rockefeller said he has “serious concerns” with in-flight mobile calls for safety reasons.

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The issue of phones on planes gained momentum after newly sworn-in FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed that the agency remove its ban on in-flight cellphone use. The FCC voted last week to consider removing the ban, while the Transportation Department announced it was considering its own ban on calls on planes.

Wheeler's proposal saw backlash from lawmakers, airline workers and consumers.

“As Chairman of the Committee with jurisdiction over both of your agencies, let me add my voice to that growing chorus,” Rockefeller wrote.

“I encourage you to carefully consider the possibility of banning in-flight mobile calls and to fully examine all safety issues that the use of cellular voice services on aircraft may create,” he said.

“The ability to make a call on one’s cell phone is not worth compromising the safety of a flight.”