Europe to allow mobile device use during flights

The European agency's decision to allow phones and tablet use from gate-to-gate follows a similar move by its U.S. counterparts.

Image: CNET

Europe's Aviation Safety Agency has given the green light to extend mobile and tablet use to all phases of a flight, including take-off and landing.

The European agency said it will publish by the end of November new guidance for using personal electronic devices while in the air — from departing gate to arriving gate — so long as these devices are in "airplane mode."

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"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 prepared remarks.

The change will be applicable to all airlines and aircraft in Europe. 

EASA follows a similar path by its American counterpart, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

New rules by the FAA now allow consumers to use electronic devices at all points during a flight, subject to individual airline rules. But any device that transfers data still needs to be in "airplane mode" — transmissions over cellular networks, regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, are still prohibited while in flight.

Over the longer term, EASA said it wanted to "ensure safe and harmonized use of [personal electronic devices] on-board aircraft" in European airspace.