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Originally published Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM

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European airlines to allow more use of tech gadgets

Passengers will be able to use smartphones and music players during takeoff and landing as Europe carriers follow FAA lead.

Bloomberg News

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Passengers with smartphones and music players flying on European airlines will no longer have to turn off their device on takeoff and landing under rules being developed by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

New guidelines on the use of electronics on flights by European carriers will be published by the end of the month, the Cologne-based regulator said in a statement today. The policy “will extend to all phases of flight the possibility to use personal electronic devices,” it said.

EASA is following the lead of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which said Oct. 31 it was preparing the way for easing limits on the use of electronics on planes. The policy changes are made to reflect the proliferation of smartphones and tablets among passengers.

“This is a major step in the process of expanding the freedom to use personal electronic devices onboard aircraft without compromise in safety,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said. The agency said it is “looking at new ways to certify the use of mobile phones onboard aircraft to make phone calls.”

Most devices will be approved for use as long as they are in so-called flight or airplane mode that suppresses a transmission signal. Bulky electronic devices such as laptops will still have to be stored during takeoff and landing, EASA said. Airlines have discretion on whether to permit passengers the expanded use of the devices, it said.

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