Air travelers in Canada should soon be able to use their phones, tablets, and other portable electronic gadgets from departure to arrival.
On Monday, the Canadian government announced the measure, an exemption to the Canadian Aviation Regulations, that paves the way for airlines to open up mobile device use during takeoff and landing, a benefit that had been banned in the past. The measure does specify that the device must be in flight mode -- meaning no Wi-Fi or cellular access -- while the aircraft takes off, climbs, descends, and lands, and that the airline itself must meet certain safety conditions set forth by the country's Transport Canada agency.
"This is great news for air passengers, and an exciting day for the Canadian aviation industry," Canadian Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt said in a statement. "By collaborating with our aviation partners, we are able to offer airlines the tools they need to safely enable passengers to use portable electronic devices on airplanes, while still maintaining the highest standards of aviation safety."
The move means that Canada will follow the United States and Europe in easing the restrictions against mobile device use during a whole flight. Such restrictions had been in place for years amid concerns that signals from a mobile device could interfere with an aircraft's radio communications. But more recent reports have found such concerns largely unwarranted.
The measure opens the door for greater mobile device use. Now it's up each individual airline in Canada to meet the necessary security requirements and put the policy into effect.
Air Canada announced that it's finalizing the steps to implement the new procedure. Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet said it supports the decision but still needs to show that radio frequency emissions from mobile devices don't pose any risk to aircraft systems and equipment and must also train its flight crews and change its operating manuals.
In the US, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and several other airlines have already gone through the Federal Aviation Administration approval process to allow use of small electronic devices at all times during a flight.