First step towards in-flight internet

EU ruling could eventually lead to expanded use of mobiles and tablets for internet access on flights

10 December 2013

AIRLINE passengers could soon be allowed to use the internet on their mobile phone or tablet computer at any stage in the flight.

The European Union has taken a first step to allowing expanded use of portable devices onboard. The EU's Aviation Safety Agency has ruled that airline passengers can now use devices in "flight mode" - not transmitting any signals - throughout the journey.

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.

The next step would be for the agency to see if such devices can be put to full use and connected to the internet.

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," he said, adding that new guidance should come next year.

Pilots would have the final say and could order passengers to switch all devices off for safety reasons.

Photo: Shutter_M/ Article: AFP/Relaxnews

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