Europe approves use of in-flight electronics during take-off and landing

donderdag, 05 december 2013 - Categorie: Berichten Internationaal

Bron: .
14 nov. 2013

European regulator approval could see the use of electronic devices during all phases of flight before Christmas

Being warned to turn off your mobile phone or tablet ahead of take-off could finally be a thing of the past by December, following a new ruling from Europe's air safety agency.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) has approved the use of electronic devices during take-off and landing and will publish its guidance regarding safety testing and which devices can and can't be used during all phases of flight by the end of November.

The approval follows Federal Aviation Administration’s ruling in October that personal electronic devices such as ebook readers, tablet computers and portable games consoles could be used “during all phases of flight”. Mobile phones will also be allowed, as long as their cellular radios are disabled or they are put into ''airplane mode''.

Larger electronic devices, such as laptop computers, will need to be stowed during taxiing, take-off and landing due to their bulk.

“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 Patrick Ky, Easa executive director in a press release.

Airline-by-airline basis

Following Easa’s decision and release of guidance by the end of November this year, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can then implement the recommendations with individual airlines. Instead of a blanket change, the approval for use of electronic devices during all phases of flight will be made on an airline by airline basis.

Any UK airline that aims to allow the use of electronic devices during take-off and landing will have to present a “safety case” to the CAA in the UK, as Delta Airlines has already done within the US to the FAA.

Pre-Christmas plan

“The airlines now have access to new methodology for the safety testing of devices, which could be a relatively quick process, especially as some airlines are likely to have already done a fair bit of testing,” said a CAA spokesperson.

“We will have to wait and see what the nature of the guidance will be, so it is difficult to predict an accurate timescale, but it is possible that UK airlines could be permitted to allow the use of personal electronic devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight before Christmas this year,” the CAA spokesperson added.

The next stage in the approval of use of electronic devices during take-off and landing in the UK ultimately lies with individual airlines, who may or may not have already commenced testing for their safety cases.

Easa is also looking at new ways to certify the use of mobile phones on-board aircraft without needing them to be put into a flight-safe mode allowing mid-air phone calls.

“Easa recognises the wide proliferation of personal electronic devices and the wish of the travelling public to use them everywhere,” Easa said in its press release.

What the airlines say

In response to the Easa's approval and impending guidance Iain Rawlinson, chief executive of Monarch Airlines welcomed the move saying: “We recognise that passengers travel with a wide range of electronic devices for both communication and entertainment purposes and, pending the outcome of industry testing and CAA approval, Monarch expects to undertake its own tests and implement changes to policies regarding in-flight usage of personal electronic devices.”

British Airways, the first European airline to allow the use of electronic devices during taxi after landing, also welcomed the news.

''As a UK carrier we are regulated by the CAA and we will continue to liaise with them to see if there will be any changes to the current restrictions,'' a British Airways spokesperson said.

Virgin Atlantic also ''welcomes this EASA guidance which we think will give our customers an even more enjoyable experience onboard''.

The safety of our customers and crew is our number one priority and we will be carefully assessing the guidance before adapting any safety procedures,” a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said.

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