European air travellers will soon be able to use their personal electronic devices throughout flights, with the continent's air safety regular confirming new guidelines will come into play by the end of the month.
Following the lead of their American counterparts, the FAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said passengers need no longer shut down and stow their gadgets during taxi, take-off and landing.
Once the new rules take effect, flyers will be able to use smartphones, tablets, e-readers, MP3 players and other devices, as long as they're in flight/airplane mode. That still means calling, texting, and using mobile data is still off limits.
The new guidelines will be published before November comes to an end. From there it will likely be up to individual airlines to adjust their policies as they see fit, as has been the case in the United States recently.
No bulky laptops
The EASA still wants "bulky" laptop computers to be stowed during taxi, take-off and landing stages of the flight, but today's announcement represents a major step forward.
The EASA said it was looking for safe ways to allow phone calls, but wants to ensure passengers listen to those all important safety instructions, first and foremost.
In a press release, sent out on Wednesday, the regulator wrote: "In the long term, the Agency is looking at new ways to certify the use of mobile phones on-board aircraft to make phone calls. EASA recognises the wide proliferation of personal electronic devices and the wish of the travelling public to use them everywhere.
"The aim of the Agency is to ensure safe and harmonised use of PED on-board aircraft operated by European airlines. Safety is EASA's priority; it is important that passengers continue to listen to the safety briefings conducted by the crew and follow their instructions."
The swift action of the European regulator will pleasantly surprise the UK's own Civil Aviation Authority. A spokesman recently suggested it'd be "months" before the EU red tape was cut.
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