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Use your electronic devices in flight? Not so fast!

November 7, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The prospect of Australian travellers using electronic devices in flight, even when flying into or out of the US, is not just around the corner, despite advances in the field in America.

Aviation regulators in America last week cleared the use of mobile devices (not mobile phones) considered safe during take-off and landing for US airlines. The change, which airlines are already implementing in the US, may pave the way for similar in Australia. That may not happen soon, however.

Non-US airlines cannot give passengers permission to use their electronic devices while taking off or landing in US airspace until it is permitted by their country’s aviation authority. In Australia’s case, that authority is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). 250x250

That means passengers from Australia flying into the US on Qantas or Virgin Australia will have to wait until the authorities in Australia give the go-ahead. Australian carriers are likely to receive regulatory approval for electronic device use  from CASA sometime next year.

US carriers are expected to let passengers use smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers from gate to gate, perhaps by the end of this year. Mobile phones are definitely not on the list.

The rules, introduced by the US Federal Aviation Administration, apply to “personal electronic devices” (PEDs). Mobile phones do not come into that category under FAA rules. “Cell phones may not be used for voice communications,” the FAA states.

Airlines will be responsible for testing their own aircraft to ensure that is no interference. Delta and JetBlue were the first carriers to gain approval for gate-to-gate device usage last Friday and American Airlines has since confirmed that its passengers can so the same.

Kristie Greco, spokesperson for the FAA, confirmed to Business Insider that non-US airlines are governed by the regulations of their country’s civil aviation authority.

The FAA did not consider changing the regulations regarding the use of cell phones (mobile phones) for voice communications during flight because the issue is under the jurisdiction of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Mobile phones differ from most PEDs in that they are designed to send out signals strong enough to be received at great distances.

This is the word from the FAA:

Top Things Passengers Should Know about Expanded Use of PEDs on Airplanes:

1. Make safety your first priority.

2.  Changes to PED policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED.

3.  Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.

4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.

5.  Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

6. Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.

7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.

8.  It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.

9.  In some instances of low visibility – about one percent of flights – some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device.

10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.

Written by : Peter Needham

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