EU edges toward flight use of tablets, smartphones

Dec 09, 2013
A man works on his iPad aboard a flight to Moline, Illinois, on October 29, 2012

Long overdue in an increasingly connected world—or the end of a precious oasis of peace—the European Union on Monday took a first step to allowing expanded use of smartphones and tablets on aircraft.

The EU's Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) judged would now be able to use portable electronic devices if they are put in "Flight Mode," that is not transmitting, throughout the journey, from take-off to landing.

The next step would be for EASA to see if such devices can be put to full use and connected in transmission mode to the Internet, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said, adding that he had called for the review to be speeded up.

Up to now, airlines require all devices without exception to be switched off for take-off and landing to prevent possible interference with aircraft electronic systems, a safety risk.

Those devices equipped with "Flight Mode" can then be switched on but those without have to remain off.

"Today we are taking a first step to safely expand the use of in-flight electronics during taxiing, take-off and landing," Kallas said.

"Next we want to look at how to connect to the network while on board," he said, adding that new guidance should come next year.

The airlines will have to decide as an issue of service and passenger comfort whether to continue current practice or take the next step, which may not please everyone, he said.

"Is this the end of the last silent place in the world?" Kallas asked, noting: "After this change ... it is a new reality."

Air travel has increased almost as fast as has use of smartphones and tablets, driving demands that passengers be able to use them freely to stay connected to the Internet while travelling.

Die-hard opponents argue that airline travel provides one of the few havens from the onslaught of the modern interconnected world and should stay that way.

Explore further: TV-over-Internet service Aereo seeks Chapter 11 (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

In-flight phones: Others likely to follow FAA lead

Nov 01, 2013

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says it is relaxing restrictions on the use of smartphones and other electronics inside flights by American carriers. Passengers are still barred from making calls ...

Recommended for you

Man pleads guilty in New York cybercrime case

57 minutes ago

A California man has pleaded guilty in New York City for his role marketing malware that federal authorities say infected more than a half-million computers worldwide.

Dish restores Turner channels to lineup

10 hours ago

Turner Broadcasting channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are back on the Dish network after being dropped from the satellite TV provider's lineup during contract talks.

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

15 hours ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.