Technology takes off

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is preparing to update its guidance on the use of personal electronics during take-off and landing. Following in the footsteps of the move by the US Federal Aviation Administration last year, CASA is expected to finalise changes over the next month that will relax restrictions on devices on planes.

Currently electronic devices such as phones, tablets, e-readers and music players must be switched off for take-off and landing, however, changes would see these devices allowed to be used in flight mode from gate to gate.

While CASA is taking into consideration issues including crew training, cabin safety and electromagnetic interference, when the changes are approved it will be up to individual airlines to change their rules for passengers.

Passengers on most Qantas tans-Tasman routes have already been allowed to use their devices from gate to gate, as the majority of planes flying these routes are registered in New Zealand. New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority approved the same changes in July.

Qantas and Virgin Australia are both ready to embrace the changes with CASA giving their applications the green light yesterday, meaning that from this afternoon passengers on these airlines will be allowed to keep their devices on in ‘flight mode’ from gate to gate.

Both airlines are also working to expand their ability to allow passengers to access in-flight entertainment wirelessly through their personal smartphone, tablet or laptop device.

With the new guidelines set to come into effect over next month, there will nevertheless be some restrictions with a one kg gadget limit to apply, meaning larger devices, such as laptops, will still need to be stowed. Smaller devices, such as phones, will need to be held by a passenger or stored safely in a pocket, or the seat pocket.

What do you think? Are these changes long overdue? Will you take advantage of the extended use of personal electronic devices? Or do you enjoy the technology break flying used to provide?

Written by SJ