Wings Magazine

International regulations to follow FAA’s lead on devices

Nov. 4, 2013, London, U.K. - America's Federal Aviation Administration says it is relaxing restrictions on the use of smartphones and other electronics inside American airplanes.

November 4, 2013  By CTV News

Passengers are still barred from making calls or
downloading data off a cellular network during takeoff or landing, but
the OK on using laptops, consoles, e-readers, and other electronics at
the beginning and end of each flight will come as a relief to many U.S.
travellers. Here's a look at what may be in store for air travellers in
the rest of the world.

Will other's follow in FAA's footsteps?


That seems likely. Across the Atlantic, Britain's Civil Aviation
Authority on Friday said it welcomed the FAA's move, noting that
electronic devices were a fact of modern life and "naturally passengers
want to use them when they fly." Still, it said that European
authorities in Brussels would have the final say over whether to loosen
rules across the continent.


One academic who has studied the issue said European regulators first
followed America's lead in banning use of the devices during takeoff and
landing and were likely to follow America's lead again now that the
situation had changed.


"American safety is regarded as a gold standard," said Joseph Lampel, a
professor of strategy and innovation at London's City University and a
critic of the current rules. He acknowledged that European regulators
had become increasingly independent of their American counterparts, but
said it still seemed likely that they would relax the restrictions,
which he said "never made any sense."


There was no answer at the European Aviation Safety Agency on Friday, a public holiday in some parts of Europe.

What happens if not everyone agrees to change the rules?


Conceivably, a passenger travelling from New York to London would be
allowed to use a games console on takeoff but would have to turn it off
before landing. If that passenger took the same plane home, he or she
would have to turn the console off on takeoff but be allowed to use it
on landing. It's a confusing scenario aviation officials say they're
working to avoid.


"That's exactly the kind of situation that (International Civil
Aviation Organization) is trying to mitigate right now," said spokesman
Anthony Philbin. "Our main concern is that we don't want to see separate
regulations set in place in different places in the world."


Philbin said a group of international state and industry representatives is currently studying the issue.

How are international airlines reacting?


Airlines across the globe said they were still digesting the FAA's
turnaround, but a few of them released statements suggesting that they
expected similar moves elsewhere.


Air New Zealand, the country's national carrier, said it seemed
"probable that a similar approach will be adopted in this jurisdiction
in time." Qantas, Australia's largest airline, said in a statement that
it was "always interested in regulatory developments that could benefit
passengers" and would be looking closely at the FAA's decision.


German airline company Lufthansa, which has long championed the use of
data services in the cabin, welcomed the FAA decision but said it was
concerned that rules might now vary according to the airline or the


"We hope these standards will be featured worldwide," spokesman Michael Lamberty said.

British Airways, Air France-KLM, and Virgin Atlantic did not immediately return messages.


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