Virgin Atlantic OK’s Cell Phones in Flight. FAA Still Says “No”
The FAA gets it wrong again.
When Virgin Atlantic announced recently that passengers could make calls on their cell phones on VA’s Airbus A330 and Boeing 747 between London and New York, it was another wake up call to the Federal Aviation Administration to face reality.
Although cellphones can not be used during take off and landing, and the price per call is still steep (about a $1.60 per minute and twenty cents per text), the point is, as we have reported, about 100 other airlines allow and are equipped for in-flight calls.
The Huffington Post reports that Virgin will offer the service on 20 or so other planes shortly, and while the press release from service provider AeroMobile says that the service is intended for use in “exceptional situation,” who really believes that.
True, according to Huffpost, only six users will be able to use the service at one time on any given flight. But CNN noted that AeroMobile’s CEO pointed out that more than 1000 aircraft will be outfitted with the service in the next three years. He said that Lufthansa, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, SAS and Gulf Air will launch in-flight mobile systems in the months ahead. We argued in recent articles that if cell phones were so dangerous, why allow them?
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Then comes a column by Fred Tanaka who was reprimanded by the FAA because he took video of birds being sucked into the engine of Delta flight 1063 from New York’s JFK. The agency told Tanaka that shooting video, a Personal Electronic Device (PED) “ could have “affected the safe outcome of the flight.”
Tanaka argues, as did we, that every day, 450 million people are on 29 million planes, and for sure not all of them have turned off their devices. Tanaka says that the logical consequence of this reasoning is to collect all electronic devices, or ban them all together.