By THOMAS BEAUMONT Associated Press Four years after the tea party rocked the political world by ousting several prominent Republicans in Congress, the ultra-conservative movement finds itself...More >>
By THOMAS BEAUMONT Associated Press Four years after the tea party rocked the political world by ousting several prominent Republicans in Congress, the ultra-conservative movement finds itself with...More >>
A runner-up from the last two years and a four-time champion continued to play leapfrog Saturday at the head of the pack in the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.More >>
Race leader Aliy Zirkle took a two-hour lead out of the Yukon River village of Kaltag on Saturday and became the first musher to reach the Alaska west coast community of Unalakleet in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.More >>
Arwin Buditom guards some of the most successful high-tech firms in America. Joseph Farfan keeps their heat, air and electric systems humming. But these workers and tens of thousands like them who help fuel the...More >>
Arwin Buditom guards some of the most successful high-tech firms in America. Joseph Farfan keeps their heat, air and electric systems humming. But these workers and tens of thousands like them who help fuel the Silicon...More >>
By JOAN LOWY Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - When it comes to deciding whether airline passengers can use their cellphones in flight, federal agencies are sending different signals to consumers.
The Transportation Department, which regulates aviation consumer issues, indicated in a notice posted online Friday that it is considering retaining the 23-year-old ban on the calls, and asked for public comment.
Two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission voted to pursue allowing the calls. The FCC has responsibility for determining whether the use of cellphones in flight would interfere with cellular networks on the ground.
Polls show that many passengers, particularly frequent fliers, oppose allowing in-flight calls from passengers' cellphones. Echoing their concerns, the Transportation Department said it believes allowing passengers to make cellphone calls "may be harmful or injurious" to others.
"People tend to talk louder on cellphones than when they're having face-to-face conversations," the department said. "They are also likely to talk more and further increase the noise on a flight, as passengers would not be simply talking to the persons sitting next to them but can call whomever they like."
Some planes already have seat-back phones, but they are rarely used, the department said, adding that the concern "is not about individual calls, but rather the cumulative impact of allowing in-flight calls in close quarters."
At the FCC, Chairman Tom Wheeler has said he wants to repeal the ban on cellphone use in flight, calling it restrictive and outdated. He also wants the airlines, not the government, to have final say on in-flight calling. He declined to comment Friday on the Transportation Department's notice.
In an Associated Press-GfK poll three months ago, 48 percent of those surveyed opposed letting cellphones be used for voice calls while planes are in flight, while 19 percent were in favor and 30 percent were neutral. Among those who'd flown four or more times in the previous year, the rate of opposition soared to 78 percent.
Delta Air Lines told the government last year that 64 percent of its passengers indicated that the ability to make phone calls in flight would have a negative impact on their onboard experience.
The FCC has already received more than 1,200 public comments on its proposal, almost all of them opposed to lifting the ban.
"Nobody, absolutely nobody, wants to be the involuntary audience of another passenger's telephone conversation," one commenter said Friday. "It is the equivalent of torture to be forced to listen to the incessant prattling of a seatmate, compounded by the impossibility of escape."
Among the most ardent opponents of lifting the ban are flight attendants, who worry that phone conversation will spark arguments between passengers and even acts of violence.
"Allowing passengers to use cellphones during commercial flights will add unacceptable risks to aviation security, compromise a flight attendant's ability to maintain order in an emergency, increase cabin noise and tension among passengers and interfere with crew members in the performance of their duties as first responders in the cabin," said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, responding to the department's proposal. The association represents nearly 60,000 flight attendants at 19 carriers.
Congress, inhabited by some of the nation's most frequent fliers, is also getting into the act. Lawmakers are pushing legislation to require transportation regulators to implement a ban on calls.
"When it comes to cellphones on planes, tap, don't talk," Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said last week as the committee gave bipartisan approval to his bill.
The FCC ban was adopted in 1991 based on concern the calls from planes might interfere with cellular networks on the ground, but technological advances have resolved those worries. In 2005, the FCC cleared the way for airlines to begin offering Wi-Fi in flight.
Last October, the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates safety, dropped its ban on the use of personal electronic devices such as tablets, music players and smartphones during takeoffs and landings as long as devices are set to airplane mode. Passengers can send email, text or surf the Internet when planes are above 10,000 feet in altitude.
The agency said it is no longer worried the devices will interfere with cockpit electronics. However, phone calls during all phases of flight are still prohibited under the FCC ban.
A suicide car bomber set off his explosive-laden vehicle at a security checkpoint Sunday in southern Iraq, the deadliest of a series of attacks that killed 42 people, officials said. The violence, which comes a few...More >>
A suicide car bomber set off his explosive-laden vehicle at a security checkpoint Sunday in southern Iraq, the deadliest of a series of attacks that killed 42 people, officials said. The violence, which comes a few weeks...More >>
International intelligence agencies joined the investigation Sunday into the two passengers who boarded the missing Boeing 777 jetliner with stolen passports, as Malaysian authorities revealed that radar images...More >>
International intelligence agencies joined the investigation Sunday into the two passengers who boarded the missing Boeing 777 jetliner with stolen passports, as Malaysian authorities revealed that radar images showed the...More >>
Search and rescue crews across Southeast Asia scrambled on Saturday to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam early that...More >>
Malaysia intelligence agencies are investigating how up to four passengers with suspect identities were able to board the missing Boeing 777 jet, the government said, as planes and ships from across Asia resumed the hunt...More >>
A Ukrainian officer at a military base in Ukraine's region of Crimea says that pro-Russia soldiers have crashed a truck through its gates in an attempt to take it over.More >>
Dozens of military trucks transporting heavily armed soldiers rumbled over Crimea's rutted roads Saturday as Russia reinforced its armed presence on the disputed peninsula in the Black Sea. Moscow's foreign...More >>
Lebanon's national airline says Iraqi authorities denied permission for its plane to land in Baghdad after a son of an Iraqi minister missed the flight.More >>
Iraqi authorities on Thursday denied permission to a plane belonging to Lebanon's national carrier to land in Baghdad after a son of an Iraqi minister missed the flight, Middle East Airline said in a statement.More >>
The New York Times has printed a correction for misspelling 161 years ago the name of a free black man who was sold into slavery and whose memoirs were turned into the Oscar-winning movie "12 Years a Slave."More >>
The New York Times has printed a correction for misspelling 161 years ago the name of a black man who was sold into slavery and whose memoirs were turned into the Oscar-winning movie "12 Years a Slave."More >>