Gadgets allowed to stay on during EU flights

But airlines will need time to adapt to the new rules

Passengers on board aircraft will soon be able to use smartphones and tablets throughout the whole flight, the European Aviation Safety Agency says in a ruling that may also boost Wi-Fi services up in the air.

At the moment, passengers flying in Europe are told to keep devices on air mode, as radio signals could interfere with the aircraft. But the European Commission now authorises the use of mobiles for 3G and 4G communications, which allows internet use and sending emails, when planes are flying above 3,000 metres.

“The new guidance allows airlines to permit personal electronic devices to stay switched on, without the need to be in airplane mode,” the European Aviation Safety Agency said. “This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer ‘gate-to-gate’ telecommunication or Wi-Fi services.”

However, each European airline must do its own tests to ensure the safety of smartphone and tablet use during flights. The agency says it hopes airlines will adapt to the new rules from around eight months from now.


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