Virgin, Qantas passengers to get full flight mobile use

Virgin, Qantas passengers to get full flight mobile use

Summary: Passengers on Virgin and Qantas planes will soon no longer have to switch off their mobile phones and tablets during take off and landing.

SHARE:
5

Passengers on Virgin and Qantas flights travelling around Australia and internationally will no longer need to turn off their mobile phones or tablets during take off and landing as of Tuesday, following the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) putting in new procedures for airlines to allow passengers to keep their devices switched on.

The old rules required passengers to turn off mobiles during take off and landing, but, after investigation, and following the US and Europe, CASA has ruled that the devices can be left on, albeit in flight mode.

"CASA has put in place procedures to allow the airlines to let passengers leave their devices turned on from gate to gate," a CASA spokesperson told ZDNet.

"Large devices over one kilogram such as laptops will still have to be stowed during take off and landing. Smaller devices, such as smartphones and tablets, can be held or placed in your pocket."

The companies will need to make sure they've assessed the aircraft to be safe from electromagnetic interference, and there will need to be the appropriate safety procedures in place for passengers and crew to ensure that the devices aren't thrown around and injure passengers during take off and landing.

In a statement released late on Monday, Qantas indicated that passengers would be able to leave their phones on during take off and landing as of Tuesday afternoon.

"Qantas has conducted rigorous testing to assess the impacts of electronic devices on the safe operation of aircraft. We are confident that these devices are safe to be turned on, but in flight mode, for the duration of each flight," Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi said in a statement.

It will eventually cover all domestic, regional, and international Qantas flights, but QantasLink and Jetstar have yet to apply with CASA to have mobile use approved on their planes.

Qantas said devices can be left on during boarding whether via the aerobridge or crossing the tarmac, but once aircraft doors are closed, the devices will need to be switched into flight mode.

Virgin Australia is also expected to make the change on Tuesday.

Topics: Travel Tech, Australia

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

5 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Time will tell.

    If we see any Virgin or Qantas planes crashing.

    Personally, I know my life is worth more than a text, email or FB update.

    I guess next they will look to allow in-air phone calls.

    That will really suck IMO.
    GotThumbs
    • Proven to be FUD

      It has never been proven that electronic devices interfere with avionics. That said, I like the silence of everybody's phone during the flight.
      thenitewatch@...
  • Time will tell.

    If we see any Virgin or Qantas planes crashing.

    Personally, I know my life is worth more than a text, email or FB update.

    I guess next they will look to allow in-air phone calls.

    That will really suck IMO.
    GotThumbs
    • You need to read and understand before commenting

      The device has to be in flight mode which means no test, emails or FB updates.
      This is mostly for people listening to music or reading an electronic book or playing a game on the tablet.

      And its never been shown to actually interfere. Just like mobile phones at petrol stations.
      Justin Watson
  • Misread the headline of this article

    My assumption was that it was announcing full mobile use for flights. Being able to keep your phone on inflight w/ the phone and data portions disabled is far less newsworthy, but is probably welcomed by Australians and those flying within the country.

    As far as risks from cellphones, the only one I've noticed is the propensity of cellphone transmitters to create interference on communication equipment (i.e. think the buzzing you can hear if you hold your cellphone near a PC speaker or phone cord. Having dozens of those firing off in the cabin as you land or otherwise are in contact with the tower might be an issue with the pilots.
    ejhonda