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Buncefield fire scene

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is to ease the rules limiting the use of electronic devices in aircraft passenger cabins.

Phones, tablets, ebook readers, MP3 players - all the kit we’re currently told to turn off during taxiing, take-off and landing will, the agency said yesterday, be allowed to stay on provided their Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth radios, if they have them, are disabled.

Not all of your gadgets, mind - “bulky” laptops, because of their size and concerns they might get in the way during an emergency situation, will have to be stowed during these crucial flight periods.

The new regulations, which will be detailed before the month is out, apply only to European airlines, and clearly only in airspace where the EASA has jurisdiction.

Airlines can choose to maintain limits on device use during taxiing, take-off and landing, but it’s hard to imagine them doing so. Perhaps Ryanair will impose (yet more) fees on gadget use during these flight stages.

Then there’s the inevitable flight mode issue: how long before the EASA admits that a fair few devices are always left trying to ping networks because their owners forget, pack them in bags they can’t access during take-off, or simply chose not to put them into aircraft mode? There remains very little, if any hard evidence that communicating devices actually adversely affect aircraft systems.

Most reports conclude that they “may” do so, but no one can be sure.

The EASA’s move follows a similar ruling made last month by US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It judged that so long as devices don’t use radio or cellular connections then there is no danger in using them during take-off and landing. ®

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