The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is planning to publish guidance that’ll allow airlines to permit the use of personal electronic devices in ‘Flight Mode’ during taxiing, take-off and landing as well as throughout commercial flights. This will cover tablets, smartphones, eBook readers and mp3 players as well as laptops, although heavier devices will need to be stowed safely during take-off and landing.
Each airline will be required to assess its fleet and set its own rules.
In a separate announcement, the European Commission has ruled that airlines can now allow passengers to connect to in-flight systems using 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) technology. Current rules only allow airlines to offer a 2G connection, which enables them to provide voice and text services but is impractical for high-speed mobile internet connections.
Currently more than 200 aircraft flying to destinations in Europe are equipped to comply with the EU rules allowing 2G devices to be used when flying above 3000 metres. The in-flight system connects to the cellular network via satellite and is charged at the airline’s ‘roaming’ rate.