Frequent flyers rejoice: soon enough, you won't have to switch off your mobile phone or tablet when you get on a plane. Phone calls and Internet browsing are still going to be impossible, but at least you won't have to bother with the power button.
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Following a similar move by the FAA in the United States, Australian domestic airlines will soon be able to allow passengers to leave their smartphones and tablets powered on during take-off and landing — as long as they follow approved policies for signing off on planes and crew training. A CASA airworthiness bulletin, published in late May and discussed by Crikey, lays out the rules for airline operators that wish to implement the new procedures.
According to iTnews, QANTAS was the first Australian airline to apply for approval from CASA, and is currently running through safety procedures and checks with the government regulator. Passengers on Australia's largest domestic airline service should be able to take advantage of the relaxed rules around smartphone and tablet use within a couple of months, and two other major airlines are also in line for approval.
This is a godsend especially for shorter flights like Sydney to Melbourne, Sydney to Canberra and Brisbane to Maroochydore, where just as much time is spent ascending or descending to or from cruising altitude as it is on leveled-out flight. The relaxed rules will apply to devices less than 1kg in weight — covering even the largest Android tablets and iPads, and any smartphone from any manufacturer sold in Australia.
So, within a couple of months, you should start to see airlines advertising the option to use your smartphone or tablet at any time during flight — as long as you're not trying to make a call. [iTnews / CASA]