On December 9, 2016, the US Department of Transportation ("DOT") issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with the stated purpose of protecting "airline passengers from being unwillingly exposed to voice calls within the confines of an aircraft." In that regard, the DOT proposes to require sellers of air transportation to provide adequate advance notice to passengers if the carrier operating the flight allows passengers to make voice calls using mobile wireless devices. Under this proposed rule, carriers would be free to set their own voice call policies, to the extent otherwise permitted by law, so long as carriers provide adequate advance notice when voice calls will be allowed. The requirement for airlines to provide advance notice when voice calls are allowed would not apply to small airlines (i.e., US and foreign air carriers that provide air transportation only with aircraft having a designed seating capacity of less than 60 seats). Finally, there would be no requirement to provide advanced notice if the carrier prohibits calls. Comments to this NPRM should be filed by February 13, 2017. Late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.
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