Japan allows electronics on flights

Japan is moving to let airline passengers use smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices during flight, but only if they are switched to flight mode during take-off and landing, according to the country's transport ministry.

Japan is moving to allow the use of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets in-flight, following similar moves by Australia, the United States, and the European Union.

From today, passengers are allowed to use a wide range of mobile electronic devices if they are switched to 'flight mode' during take-off and landing on newer planes, the transport ministry has said.

This mode disables cellular service, so passengers will still not be able to make calls or send texts.

Under previous rules, mobile phones, computers, and other digital audio-visual devices that emit radio waves were supposed to be switched off during take-off and landing. They were allowed to be used during the flight.

"The new rules do not apply to some aeroplanes with an old design," a ministry official said.

The changes came after similar decisions by the US and EU last year, and after Australia last week relaxed similar rules for passengers on Qantas and Virgin.

Last Tuesday, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) put in new procedures for airlines to allow passengers to keep their devices switched on.

Under the old rules, passengers were required 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 last week.

"CASA and international aviation safety regulatory authorities have determined that wider use of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) can be allowed without adverse safety impacts. CASA assessed this will not compromise Australia's high safety standards," the Authority said in a statement. "The devices will need to remain in 'flight mode' throughout the flight."