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Virgin, Qantas passengers to get full flight mobile use

Passengers on Virgin and Qantas planes will soon no longer have to switch off their mobile phones and tablets during take off and landing.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

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.

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