Are pilots not following regulations and keeping their cell phones on?

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a new alert to flight crews re-stating regulations that require cell phones to be shut off during take off and inflight, even those belonging to flight attendants and pilots.

It seems that in at least one example a pilot was not following the rules regarding cell phones.

An FAA air safety inspector was recently riding in the cockpit jump seat of an unnamed airline, performing routine observation, when the first officer’s cell phone began to ring just as the plane reached V1, the speed at which the captain has to commit to taking off.

Needless to say, the inspector made a note of this gaffe. “It was later determined that the sound came from the first officer’s cellular phone, which had been left in the ON position,” a report of the incident notes, according to Flightglobal. “As a result the ring tone caused a distraction between the crew members during the takeoff phase and could have led the to crew to initiate an unnecessary rejected takeoff.”

Of course, the whole cell phone on a plane issue is a favorite for passengers to debate. Last summer, Gadling’s own resident pilot and blogger Kent made the case for the “no phones” regulation when an angry passenger claimed that warnings about cell phones interfering with navigation equipment was just so much hooey.

I’m not that convinced, though, and not just because I have inadvertently left my phone on during a flight and we didn’t plummet in a ball of flames. Rather, a lot of airlines right now are debating whether to allow cell phone use in flight (European airlines seem poised to allow them), which to me sort of blows the whole danger factor out of the water. I mean, you can’t for years universally insist that using cell phones will screw with a plane’s navigation technology and then one day permit inflight calls and not expect passengers to conclude that the danger has always been overstated. If it was truly dangerous, cell phone use would never be allowed, period.

Now, if we could just get airlines to chuck their ridiculous insistence that I can’t listen to my iPod during take off. I hate to fly and it relaxes me — and it’s not like I’m going to somehow miss the fact that we have just crashed.