• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 8:27am
NewsHong Kong
AVIATION

Hong Kong airlines to allow use of smartphones, tablets during take-off and landing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 4:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 2:38pm
 

The familiar cabin announcement telling air travellers to turn off mobile gadgets during take-off and landing may soon be a thing of the past after Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Department announced an easing of restrictions.

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair passengers will be able to use smartphones, e-readers and tablets throughout flights, under revised rules issued yesterday. Devices will still, however, have to be kept in flight-safe mode, so they do not transmit signals. The new rules apply only to handheld gadgets; large equipment, such as laptops, must be turned off for take-off and landing.

The city follows Australia, Japan, the European Union and United States in easing rules over the past year as fears electromagnetic signals could interfere with aircraft systems recede. The department said its review followed technological developments.

"Under the new regulations, passengers will be allowed to use [devices] during all phases of flight … provided that the aircraft is certified to be tolerant [to them] and that related operating procedures are in place," the department said.

Pilots will have the discretion to restrict the use of mobile devices in the event of problems such as turbulence, low visibility, systems interference or in accordance with local regulations elsewhere. Voice calls, text messages, Bluetooth and data roaming remain prohibited.

Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair were the first local airlines to be given permission for the use of devices throughout flights. The first Cathay flight under the new rules will be Flight 592 to Osaka on September 15.

"Our passengers will appreciate the opportunity to use their personal devices throughout the whole flight," said Toby Smith, Cathay Pacific's general manager for products.

Dr Eric Wong Tsun-tat of Polytechnic University's mechanical engineering department, said most newer aircraft had adequate defences against electromagnetic interference.

He said aviation authorities had calculated that it was an "acceptable risk" as not everyone would have their phones on at once. He added: "In-flight entertainment systems are already so advanced, why would anyone need to use their mobile phone?"

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

7

This article is now closed to comments

klyiu1@yahoo.ca
Aside from security concerns, what about the shaky and bumpy turbulent motions during the moment of take-off or landing, which could cause unspoken damages? It's getting dumber and dumber, and an invitation to trouble.
andreaswagner
This is not a smart move. Not at all :(
norodnik
Read a book, newspaper, or magazine. Watch the inflight programmes. Write a love letter to somebody. Use your brain and work a crossword puzzle or sudoku. Smokers can tolerate no smoking so why do gadgetheads need access to these devices 24x7?
sipsip1238
Because otherwise these people won't feel important...
shuike
This is dumb. Sacrifice the safety of many for the selfishness of a few. I can't believe they cannot switch off for less than 10 minutes that's required for take-off/landing?
captam
@"passengers will be able to use smartphones, e-readers and tablets throughout flights, under revised rules issued yesterday. Devices will still, however, have to be kept in flight-safe mode, so they do not transmit signals. "
This relaxation is dumb because the rule about being "kept in flight-safe" mode is not enforceable. It's simply not practicable for cabin staff to go along the aisle checking whether passengers' phones are switched to the correct mode. Many people I know don't even know how to change the modes on their own phones.
ohyeahar
I wonder if this is really worth it. Is it THAT hard for us to peel our face from the screen for those few moments during takeoff and landing?
 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or