From tomorrow, passengers on Qantas and Virgin Australia flights will be able to use mobile phones and tablets at all times, as long as the devices are in flight mode.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has cleared the use of personal electronic devices at all times on aircdraft for the travelling public, mirroring a decision by the US Federal Aviation Authority in October last year for flights in the US.
Laptops will still need to be switched off and stowed at takeoff and landing, because they weigh more than 1kg.
The changes kick in tomorrow morning for Virgin and at 3pm AEST for Qantas. The new rules will also apply to international flights.
Until now passengers have had to power down mobile devices during taxiing, take-off and much of the climb and descent phases of the flights.
“Qantas has conducted rigorous testing to assess the impacts of electronic devices on the safe operation of aircraft,” said Qantas Domestic CEO Lyell Strambi. “We are confident that these devices are safe to be turned on, but in flight mode, for the duration of each flight.”
The new rules will apply on Virgin flights on Boeing 737s and Airbus A330s, as well as on board Embraer 190s.
With flight mode enabled, passengers still won’t be able to make calls or send and receive text messages during flight, but they’ll be able to work on documents, watch videos, listen to music, read and play games from “gate to gate” without any interruption.
Qantas is also planning to give customers access to a vast on-demand array of content – 350 hours in total – on selected domestic and international aircraft, starting with Apple devices with the Q Streaming app installed, or through a browser.
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