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Air NZ loosens rules on flying with electronics

Air New Zealand has announced it’s giving more freedom to device-friendly customers by loosening rules on when you can use electronics between gates.

Flight passengers can now use tablets smartphones, e-readers and mp3 players during all phases of flight provided the devices are set to flight mode.

Previously, the scourge of the in-flight experience limited a traveller to only analogue options. Now the keen gadget-lover can bash away at their devices during the taxi, take-off and landing phases of flight.

So long as the machine isn’t transmitting (that means no wifi and nothing on the radio spectrum), from July 16 all passengers can use electronic devices.

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved the Air NZ move to allow electronic devices after being satisfied the carrier can fly safely in all stages of flight.

CAA director Graeme Harris says his agency's satisfaction stems from important testing of electronic devices. The measure couldn’t have been altered before either the tests or safely assessment were concluded.

“The use of both transmitting and non-transmitting portable electronic devices can present a serious safety risk, particularly for aircraft built to older design specifications.

“Air New Zealand has provided information to satisfy the authority that aviation safety will not be compromised by the use of non-transmitting portable electronic devices on these aircraft,” he says.

The changes apply to only the Boeing 777-200, 777-300, Airbus A320 and when introduced, the B787-9 aircraft types.

Nevertheless, Mr Harris encourages all passengers to take heed of safety briefings by cabin staff during flight.

“It is particularly important that passengers follow crew instructions and the CAA will consider strong enforcement action against passengers who do not comply with instructions regarding the use of portable electronic devices.

“This will help ensure New Zealand continues to enjoy the high standards of aviation safety to which both local and international travellers are accustomed,” he says.

Jetstar, which also operates in New Zealand, has not changed its position on disallowing electronic devices on flights.

The carrier announced in November last year it will wait for a CAA assessment on the safety of allowing electronic devices in–flight.

Jetstar spokesman Phil Boeyen says he is not receiving any instructions that Jetstar will follow in Air NZ footsteps at this time.

More by Nathan Smith

Comments and questions

This has always been so much hype. I have been lucky enough to fly on corporate jets since the mid-80s and after the new post-brick phones we have all used our mobiles immediately the critical phase of take-off was over and only closed off when the airport came into view on finals.
I've always been told the pressure to observe the commercial 'rules' was from the mobile providers. Pilots have always laughed at it -- certainly the corp jet crowd.
Commercial aviation controlled by IATA should always be regarded with the utmost skepticism. Everything is always about what deals they can do. The paying public are just Muppets to them.

I always had a suspicion the issue was a load of old BS. Like the earlier post I question the motives of the alarmists who tried to put fear into us all that my switched on phone mistakenly not in air mode would send us all plummeting.

Some passengers won't even fasten their seat belts or put their seats in the upright position unless they're forced to by cabin crew. Who's going to check that the 'device-friendly' passengers have their devices set to flight mode?

I've always thought its interesting that passengers will sit in hundreds of millions of dollars of a height soaring metal tube, that can be brought crashing to the ground with my hundred dollar gadget.

Even listening to a headphone wired MP3 player will get stern looks from flight attendants stating its dangerous to flight deck electronics...yes, those ones behind the solid secured metal door meters in front of my designed to fly to lightening storms.

Of course no ones serious questioned the safety of these planes to the manufacturers with a 'please explain why you build planes so badly', mainly because most people aren't complete idiots.

no mention of Bluetooth?,, I have a bluetooth headphone set....

The ban still applies to any device transmitting on the radio spectrum.

Bluetooth is a wireless technology which exchanges data over short distances (using short-wavelength UHF radio waves in the ISM band from 2.4 to 2.485 GHz) from fixed and mobile devices.