The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says that, after a safety assessment process, airlines can now allow the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) throughout the flight.
It has also allowed European airlines to permit use of mobile phones after landing.
The Germany-based organisation said the new rules come into effect immediately.
The new guidance allows airlines to permit PEDs to stay switched on, without the need to be in “Airplane Mode”.
This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer “gate-to-gate” telecommunication or WiFi services.
PEDs include any kind of electronic device brought on board the aircraft by a passenger, such as smartphone, tablet, laptop, e-reader, or MP3 player.
It is up to each airline to decide whether to allow the use of PEDs. Airlines will have to go through an assessment process, ensuring aircraft systems are not affected in any way by PED radio transmissions.
For this reason, there may be differences among airlines as to whether or not PEDs can be used.
EASA says passengers must always follow airline crew instructions. “Safety always comes first onboard of an aircraft,” it says, so passengers may be asked to switch off devices if a problem is found or there is an emergency.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last year lifted its own restrictions on the use of most personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings.
But mobile phone calls, which fall under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), are still being debated.