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McCaskill Renews Call To End Airplane Electronics Ban

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Getty/Mark Wilson

Getty/Mark Wilson

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WASHINGTON (KMOX) - Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has long thought that banning the use of electronic devices on airplanes is completely unnecessary from a safety standpoint.

Now she thinks it is time for that restriction to go.

The Missouri Democrat says this isn’t a private crusade on her part so she can check her own personal electronic device during the long flights between her home state and the nation’s capital.

“It’s more the notion that the government should never have the right to keep a rule in place that’s not based on sound scientific data,” she said.

McCaskill is challenging the Federal Aviation Administration to either drop the ban on electronic devices by the end of this year or produce a “detailed explanation” of the science behind the restriction. Thus far her efforts have fallen on deaf ears in Washington.

“The original rule was way back when somebody was using a tape recorder and there was some issue so, of course, they issued a rule. Then they updated the rule in 2006,” she explained.

The chair of the Commerce Committee says McCaskill’s objections have shaken his longtime belief that the rule was necessary but Bruce Landsberg, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, is sounding a more cautious note.

He admits there is no solid evidence that the in-flight use of tablets or laptops have ever interfered with an airplane’s mechanics.

“That said, cell phones, on occasion, can cause a problem,” he said. “I had a situation where my cell phone just being on was interfering with my ability to communication with the air traffic control on the ground.”

When he turned off the cell phone, Landsberg said, the interference went away.

“It seems like there would be ample opportunity without a great deal of expense to test this concept and be prepared to reverse it,” Landsberg said.

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