U.S. bill would ban cellphone calls on planes

Allowing airline passengers to make cellphone calls in-flight is asking for trouble, U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday as a House panel approved a bill to ban such calls.

FAA loosening regulations to allow use of email, downloading in the air

The FAA is lifting a ban on use of electronic devices on planes, but U.S. lawmakers want to keep everyone off their cellphones. (Associated Press)

Allowing airline passengers to make cellphone calls in-flight is asking for trouble, U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday as a House panel approved a bill to ban such calls.

The bill — passed without opposition by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee — requires the Department of Transportation to issue regulations prohibiting such calls.

The bill has no impact on the Federal Aviation Administration's decision late last year to allow passengers to email, text, surf the Internet and download data using smartphones and other personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings.

Phone calls are another matter. Both Republican and Democratic House members, some of the most frequent flyers in the U.S., said they believe in-flight calls would be noisy and disturbing to other passengers and possibly disruptive.

"Most passengers would like their flights to go by as quickly and quietly as possible," Rep. Bill Shuster, the committee's Republican chairman and sponsor of the bill, said.

The bill is a response to moves late last year by the Federal Communications Commission to remove the long-standing prohibition on in-flight calls.

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