Airline passengers may soon be allowed to use electronic devices for the entire duration of a flight, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed today. Following recent regulatory approval, UK airlines will be able to seek permission from the CAA to allow their passengers to use portable electronic devices during taxi, take-off and landing.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), following the lead taken by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently published guidance for airlines to safely expand the use of devices such as tablets, smartphones, e-readers and MP3 players, potentially to all phases of flight – providing the devices are in ‘Flight’ or ‘Airplane’ Mode.
Individual European airlines have discretion on whether to use this guidance to change their current policy – which nominally prohibits the use of all devices during taxi, take-off and landing. Any change has to be approved by the airline’s national regulator, in the UK that is the CAA.
The expanded use of electronic devices will still be subject to flight crew approval on each flight, as in certain circumstances, their use might still need to be restricted. Any instructions from the aircraft crew must be followed by passengers at all times.
The use of devices that transmit electro-magnetic signals, such as mobile phones for voice calls and texts, and WiFi enabled laptop computers remain prohibited in flight unless the aircraft has been equipped with a controlling system. Aircraft crew will specifically advise which devices may be used during such flights.
The CAA will soon provide further details in an Information Notice for UK airlines explaining the process to follow.