Aviation to take off with new rules on electronic device use
DOORS to automatic, engage iPad or Kindle. This is the future of flying.
The US aviation regulator has relaxed rules on the use of tablets and e-readers, opening the door for passengers "to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight" - except for the pre-flight safety briefing.
The Federal Aviation Administration has eliminated many of the rules that have annoyed passengers for a decade or more. Mobile phones, though, must remain switched off, unless they are in "flight safe" mode, disabling the ability to make or receive calls or text messages.
Frustrated passengers - and UK airlines fearful of American competitors gaining an edge - will increase pressure on Britain's and Australia's civil aviation authorities to ease restrictions on electronic devices.
At present, the global standard is that no "personal electronic devices" (PEDs) may be switched on while the aircraft is taxiing on the ground, taking off or landing, or below 10,000 feet.
The restrictions were imposed because of fears that electro-magnetic signals from these devices could interfere with aircraft systems. But many passengers fail to comply, either deliberately or accidentally.
Over the past year, a group of experts - the PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee - has concluded that they pose no threat in the vast majority of cases.
American carriers are required to apply for permission to allow passengers to use their personal devices throughout the flight, but this is expected to be a formality.