Everyone knows the drill by now, you board an airplane and you get a safety message asking you to ensure your seat is upright, trays up, luggage safely stowed and to switch off all electrical devices including mobile phones (or at least put them in flight mode).
Now, however, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has removed the last regulatory hurdle to allowing mobile devices to be used during flights. Before you all panic and start to convulse at the thought of spending 10 hours next to someone yakking away on the phone to someone or the next wave of holiday spam – mid air selfies (shudder, that’s a horrible thought), just because it has been approved doesn’t mean it will happen. Firstly, each airline can still have its own rules about mobile use and also has to run safety tests on their own equipment, two there isn’t any phone signal at 30,000 feet so unless the airline provides signal via satellite nothing is going to happen and three even if signal is allowed certain functions may be disabled, for example voice calls. WiFi is already available on several flights in America and a London to New York flight from British Airways allows texts and WiFi but not voice calling – so the selfie is possible.
EASA allows electronic devices to remain On and Connected throughout the flight
Airlines can also allow the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) throughout the flight, after a safety assessment process. As a result, passengers will be able to use their PEDs just like in any other mode of transport: throughout the trip.
The new guidance allows airlines to permit PEDs to stay switched on, without the need to be in ‘Airplane Mode’. This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or WiFi services.
PEDs include any kind of electronic device brought on board the aircraft by a passenger such as smartphone, tablet, laptop, e-reader, MP3 player,etc.
It is up to each airline to decide to allow the use of PEDs. In order to do this, the airline will have to go through an assessment process, ensuring aircraft systems are not affected in any way by the transmission signals from the PEDs. For this reason, there may be differences among airlines whether and when PEDs can be used.
Passengers must at all times follow the airline crew instructions. Safety always comes first onboard of an aircraft.
This measure follows the initial action from EASA in December 2013, toward permitting the use of PEDs through almost all stages of flight, when the ‘Airplane Mode’ not transmitting was allowed.
Further details can be found at http://easa.europa.eu/ped