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Vice President of the European Commission
Portable electronic devices on planes
Media statement/Press Room, Berlaymont, Brussels
9 December 2013
Good morning everybody,
We all like to stay connected while we are travelling. But up to now the big difference between the train and the plane has been that portable electronic devices likes smartphones and tablets had to be switched off for much of the journey.
This is a safety issue. And safety always has to come first.
But I am pleased to tell you that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has reviewed the issue and today we are expanding the safe use of portable devices on board planes.
The first step will permit the use of all portable electronics in flight mode throughout the journey, from gate to gate.
The cabin crew will still ask you to pay attention when they make safety announcements and they will still ask you to stow heavy items such as large laptops. But now we expect most airlines to adapt their procedures so that you will be able to keep your smartphones, tablets, e-readers and MP3 players switched on in "flight mode" because they do not interfere with the aircraft's safety systems.
This is the first step. EASA is actively working on the next step, which concerns the use of portable electronics to connect with the network — be it mobile phoning or wi-fi. The research is making good progress and I expect to be able to announce an update next year.
One last point: on a very limited number of specially equipped European airlines, cell phones can already now be used for voice communication.
I have noticed that in the United States, cell phone use on one airline is restricted to silent operations — like texting and e-mail. I like the sound of that. I think our journeys should be peaceful as well as safe.
That will be up to individual airlines to decide. And I'm sure passengers will make their views known.