European Regulator Says In-Flight Mobil-Phone Use Is Safe

European airlines received permission from regulators to have passengers use personal electronic devices including mobile phones during flight, removing one of the last remaining bastions of talk-free zones.

The European Aviation Safety Agency gave the green light for in-flight deployment of smartphones, tablets, laptops, e-readers and MP3 players once airlines perform a one-time check for possible interference, according to a statement today. Current rules allow phone use before take-off and after landing.

The ruling follows a move by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration almost a year ago, and is another step to help establish in-flight offerings including Internet access for passengers. It also sets the stage for airlines to supervise the use of phones in an aircraft cabin and balance the urge to remain connected with the desire for quiet in a confined space.

“EASA has been working toward enabling airlines to allow the use of personal electronic devices with freedom comparable to that in other modes of transport, for example in trains,” EASA said in a statement. “This has been achieved.”

Devices can stay on without the need to be in “airplane mode” that cuts transmission of data once airlines have proven they do not interfere with aircraft systems, EASA said. Any airlines rules about the use of mobile devices always take precedent over the regulator’s permission, EASA said.

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