EU paves way to surfing the Internet on planes

The new instructions of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency will allow passengers to keep their electronic devices in “flight mode” throughout their journey, a move that should be followed by allowing surfing of the Internet next year.



The European Commissioner in charge of Transport, Siim Kallas, announced today that electronic devices in airplanes will soon be allowed throughout the journey, “from gate to gate”, as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) updated its rules today (9 December).

From now on, passengers will be able to keep their smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, etc. switched on “flight mode” only, including takeoff and landing, “without a risk safety”, Kallas confirmed.

Until now, electronic devices had to be switched off during takeoff, landing and taxiing.

The implementation of these new measures will be made possible as soon as the new rules are published, but no concrete date was given by the Commission.

In the course of next year, EASA is expected to come up with another set of guidelines regarding the use of connected devices on airplanes, meaning that passengers might be able in the future to call from their phones or surf the Internet on board, the Commissioner announced at today’s press conference.

“We want to look at how to connect to the network while on board. The review will take time and it must be evidence-led. We expect to issue new EU guidance on the use of transmitting devices on board EU carriers within the next year", the Commission said.

Currently, joining a network on a plane is only possible in aircrafts which are equipped with a certified on-board system.

“There are only few aircraft equipped at the moment but we may expect this to expand in the coming years”, the press release explains.

However, as the Commissioner explained, the final decision remains at the hands of the pilots and the cabin crew, whose safety instructions must be followed in priority.

These updated rules apply only to European airlines, foreign ones have to follow their civil aviation authority’s instructions.

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