EU moves to expand use of electronic devices on planes

The European Union’s aviation safety agency EASA has updated its guidance on the use of electronic devices on board of planes, allowing such devices to be switched on throughout the journey if they are in non-transmitting mode.

This mode, known as “flight mode” or “airplane mode” prevents all transmissions from the devices, meaning that they cannot interfere will plane electronics. Under the new guidance, devices like smartphones and e-readers can be used in this mode at any time, not just during cruising.

Under the new rules, the electronic devices can be used normally, with transmissions enabled, when the plane is at cruising altitude, but only in specially equipped aircraft that allow connection to a network and only when the aircraft crew allows it.

EU member states have until October 2014 to implement the new rules, but the changes are not mandatory – airlines may still choose to remain more restrictive concerning the use of electronic devices onboard.

“Many are expected to do so in the coming weeks. In any event, passengers must always follow the safety instructions of the crew, so you must only use your electronic devices if the crew allow you to do so. Crew will in any case still require your attention during the safety briefing and they may ask you to stow away heavy items during take-off and landing,” the European Commission said in a statement.

“We all like to stay connected while we are travelling, but safety is the key word here. I have asked for a review based on a clear principle: if it’s not safe it should not be allowed, but if it is safe, it can be used within the rules. Today we are taking a first step to safely expand the use of in-flight electronics during taxiing, take-off and landing,” EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas said.

“Next we want to look at how to connect to the network while on board. The review will take time and it must be evidence-led. We expect to issue new EU guidance on the use of transmitting devices on board EU carriers within the next year.”

(Photo: Dawson Toth/



The Sofia Globe staff

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