The Germany-based European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Wednesday it would be allowing passengers to use a range of mobile electronic devices in flight with very few restrictions.
Just two weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States said it would similarly relax its rules, EASA said that personal electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones, e-readers and mp3 players could be used in all phases of flight in the near future.
The devices must, however, be used only when the “flight mode” or “airplane mode” is switched on, it added in a statement. That mode disables cellular service, so passengers will still not be able to make phone calls.
Current EASA guidance allows the use of personal electronic devices on aircraft except during taxiing, take-off and landing.
EASA would issue the new guidance “by the end of November” and the changes would apply to aircraft operated by European airlines.
“This is a major step in the process of expanding the freedom to use personal electronic devices on-board aircraft without compromise in safety,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky in Cologne on Wednesday.
EASA said that in the long term it is looking at new ways to certify the use of mobile phones on-board aircraft to make phone calls.
“EASA recognises the wide proliferation of personal electronic devices and the wish of the travelling public to use them everywhere,” it said.