EASA to ease on-board electronic device guidance

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European safety authorities are to give airlines the freedom to allow passengers to use personal electronic devices during all phases of flight under new guidance to be published by the end of November.

The European Aviation Safety Agency is also looking at new methods of certifying the use of mobile phones on board.

Under the new guidance EASA says it will grant airlines the freedom to conduct their own assessment and permit the use of devices - those capable of using "flight mode" - during all phases of operation.

EASA's current guidance restricts passengers from using such equipment during ground manoeuvring, take-off, and approach and landing.

But the authority accepts that the proliferation of phones and other electronic communication devices is forcing a rethink, and its US counterpart, the FAA, has already unveiled a similar change in its own regulations.

EASA executive director Patrick Ky says the new guidance is a "major step in the process of expanding the freedom to use personal electronic devices" without a "compromise in safety".

Given the spread of mobile communications technology EASA says it is evaluating, in the "long term", methods of certifying phones to allow passengers to use them during flight.