The European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) is to follow the US lead in easing restrictions on the use of mobile electronic devices during flights.
US carriers are expected to allow passengers to use smartphones, tablets and ebook readers throughout flights by the end of the year after US aviation regulator FAA eased restrictions earlier this month.
Until now, passengers on US airlines and most other airlines have been prohibited from using mobile devices during take-off and landing.
Shortly after the FAA announcement, UK regulators told the BBCE they will look into how the FAA rules can be applied to UK airlines.
Easa is to publish guidance shortly that will extend to all phases of flight the possibility to use personal electronic devices as long as the devices are in Flight Mode.
Current Easa guidance prevents the use of mobile devices on aircraft during taxiing, take-off and landing.
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Under the new guidelines, bulky devices such as laptop computers will need to be stowed during taxiing, take-off and landing.
“This is a major step in the process of expanding the freedom to use personal electronic devices on-board aircraft without compromise in safety,” said Easa executive director Patrick Ky.
The changes will be applicable to aircraft operated by European airlines.
In the long term, Easa is looking at new ways to certify the use of mobile phones on-board aircraft to make phone calls.
“Easa recognises the wide proliferation of personal electronic devices and the wish of the travelling public to use them everywhere,” the agency said in a statement.