9:38 PM

This is Why I Voted
for DeFazio

I am extremely proud of my Congressman tonight, because Pete DeFazio is introducing legislation to keep Chatty Cathy from yapping away on her cell phone for those few hours we are all trapped inside a speeding pressurized tube on commercial flights. The bill, called H.R. 5788, says the following (the full text found at govtrack.us):

"Introduced in House: To amend title 49, United States Code, to establish prohibitions against voice communications using a mobile communications device on commercial airline flights, and for other purposes."
When they use the term "mobile communications device", what they really mean is this:
"A commercial mobile radio service or other wireless communications device; a broadband wireless device or other wireless device that transmits data packets using the Internet Protocol or comparable technical standard; or a device having voice override capability."
One note on this bill is that it does not apply to "a member of the flight crew or flight attendants" on an aircraft. This is a good thing because in the unlikely scenario when gremlins take an airliner's radio system hostage, it will be nice to let the FO use his iPhone to call ATC.

And while I appluad Rep. De Fazio for introducing this bill, I half-jokingly wish he or his staff would have consulted the GA crowd before giving the bill its street name:
The "short title" of this bill shown on govtrack.us is the `Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace Act of 2008'. As any good pilot will tell you, "airplane noise" as defined by us aviators is that wonderful sound when a gigantic radial engine roars by overhead, or the sound that a Piper Cub makes taking off from a tiny grass strip. We make a mass exodus each July to Oshkosh just to flood our ears with "airplane noise" and we've never met an airplane that makes bad noise with the engine(s) running.
Maybe they should have called this the "Any Idiot Who Uses His Cell Phone In Flight Will Get Tossed Off the Ship Like D.B. Cooper Act of 2008".

This bill is just in its infancy, and has yet to move through the maze of bureaucracy that is our Federal Government. If you would like to see just what this bill – or any other – is up against, here is the route H.R. 5788 would take to become law:
[verbatim from govtrack.us] This bill is in the first step in the legislative process. Introduced bills go first to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate. The majority of bills never make it out of committee. Keep in mind that sometimes the text of one bill is incorporated into another bill, and in those cases the original bill, as it would appear here, would seem to be abandoned.
In case you missed that one Civics class in middle school where they explained this stuff, a house bill is first introduced, it is then scheduled for debate before being voted on in the House. If it wins approval there, it goes to the Senate for more debating and more voting. If it passes there, it finds its way to the President's desk where it is hopefully signed, or vetoed and sent back to the maze for more debating and more voting.

So the fact that my Congressman introduced this bill is great, but I am not going to get super excited about it until it is actually signed into law by a President.

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