Cleared for take-off: Europe allows use of e-readers on planes from gate to gate

Personal electronic devices in 'flight mode' will be allowed in all phases of journey - but mobile phone communication with ground stations remains banned

Doors to automatic, engage Kindle: weeks after America's Federal Aviation Administration conceded that a ban on the use of electronic devices at lower flight levels was unnecessary, European safety regulators have followed suit.

For the first time, personal electronic devices (PEDs) such as e-readers, MP3 players and tablet computers will be allowed in all phases of the journey, from gate to gate, so long as any transmitter is disabled ("flight mode"). But mobile phone communication with ground stations remains banned.

At present, all personal electronics devices must be turned off at altitudes below 10,000 feet, ie during taxiing, take-off and landing. The Civil Aviation Authority has previously said: "Allowing some electronic devices to be used during take-off and landing, while prohibiting others, could lead to confusion amongst passengers. Therefore, for the immediate future all PEDs should be switched off during take-off and landing."

But the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has updated its guidance on the use of portable electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets and e-readers.

The EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, said: "Today we are taking a first step to safely expand the use of in-flight electronics during taxiing, take-off and landing. Next we want to look at how to connect to the network while on board."

The old rules currently remain in force, with each airline obliged to submit changes in operational procedures to their national regulator. In the case of the UK this is the CAA.

A spokesman for British Airways said the airline "hopes to be in a position to announce a relaxation in the rules around the use of handheld electronic devices very soon". But other aviation sources suggested it may take a further year before the regulations are formally eased.

And that's not all - could wi-fi be next?

By Charlotte McDonald-Gibson in Brussels

The next step is a review into the safety of using phones for making calls and accessing wi-fi and bluetooth mid-flight. Mr Kallas has asked the EASA to speed up its review, and said he plans to issue new guidelines next year.

The EU's telecommunications arm last month approved the expansion of 3G and 4G services on board aeroplanes cruising above 3,000 metres, although only for the very few aircraft fitted with the technology to allow on board internet access. The EASA is now looking into allowing passengers to access their normal networks while in a plane, although the debate about calling in the air is likely to go beyond the safety issues, and into on-board etiquette.

“I have noticed that in the United States, cell phone use on one airline is restricted to silent operations — like texting and e-mail,” said Mr Kallas. “I like the sound of that. I think our journeys should be peaceful as well as safe.” But, he added, “that will be up to individual airlines to decide”.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why