[Avionics Today June 17, 2014] OnAir CEO Ian Dawkins wants regulators in the United States to issue a final decision about allowing in-flight cell phone use for airlines. The Swiss executive issued statements urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and FAA to deliver a final decision following the ending of the FCC's consultation period on the matter.
A passenger using Mobile OnAir on a Dassault Aviation Falcon 7X business jet. Photo, courtesy of OnAir.
In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation opened a consultation period seeking public comments on whether it should propose a rule to ban cell phone communications on flights within the United States. Dawkins is opposed to such a rule.
“You can give the airlines the right tools to allow them to decide what services to offer passengers. You can allow airlines from the rest of the world to offer cell phone services when they are in your airspace. The third option is to try to stop progress with a ban,” said Dawkins.
Results from a recent survey conducted by travel intelligence company Skift shows that currently only 18 percent of U.S. airline passengers currently use In-Flight Connectivity (IFC), which OnAir believes shows a "significant potential for growth."
In 2013 the FAA started changing its rules significantly on in-flight Wi-Fi usage, giving airlines permission to allow the use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight. However the changes did not include the allowance of the use of cell phones for voice communications, which Dawkins believes is long overdue in the U.S.
"Concerns about people using cell phones on planes are misplaced. Mobile OnAir started flying in 2007. Since then, across the world on millions of flights, there hasn’t been a single complaint about disruption caused by people using their cell phones, nor has there been any interference with ground networks or aeronautical systems," said Dawkins. “Passengers have been using their cell phones during flights across the world for nearly seven years. The U.S. is at great risk of lagging behind.”