EU Extends Use Of Electronic Devices On Planes

Back in late October, the FAA updated their policy on the use of electronic devices inflight. Each airline individually had to request approval from the FAA to have their policies updated, and within a couple of weeks virtually all US carriers had updated their policies, starting with Delta and JetBlue.

Back in mid-November the EU also approved expanded use of electronic devices on planes, though hadn’t published their new guidelines yet. Well, today the EU’s Aviation Safety Agency has published their new guidelines on the uses of electronic devices:

The EU’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has today updated its guidance on the use of portable electronic devices on board (PED), including smartphones, tablets and e-readers. It confirms that these devices may be kept switched on in “Flight Mode” (non-transmitting mode) throughout the journey (including taxiing, take-off and landing) without a risk to safety. EU Transport Commissioner, Vice President Siim Kallas has asked EASA to accelerate its safety review of the use of electronic devices on board in transmitting mode, with new guidance expected to be published early in 2014.

“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. 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.”

The new guidance

The updated safety guidance published today refers to portable electronic devices (PED) used in non-transmitting mode, better known as “flight mode”. It allows, for the first time, the use of personal electronic devices in flight mode in all phases of the journey, from gate to gate.

Prior to this all personal electronic devices had to be completely turned off during taxiing, take-off and landing.

Much like when the FAA updated their policy, nothing changes overnight here. This is merely the EU’s Aviation Safety Agency giving the airlines updated guidance on how to expand the use of electronic devices on planes. In order to implement this policy, airlines will need to update their operating procedures and get approval from the EU, which will hopefully happen in the coming weeks.

Woohoo!

(Tip of the hat to Dima)

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