Gear and Gizmos News
In a move that is sure to please Canadian travelers, the Transport Canada has announced that it will end its ban on the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing, freeing passengers to use their favorite gadgets from gate-to-gate. In doing so, the country joins the U.S. and European Union, both of which made similar moves last year.
The announcement was made by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt on Monday, but the new policy will take some time to go into effect. While the ban may technically be lifted, the airlines must now show that their aircraft are safe from electronic interference before passengers can start to freely use their devices. That process could take as little as a few weeks or as long as a few months depending on the aircraft and any modifications that may need to be done. Air Canada has already indicated that their planes are ready for inspection and that they hope to allow passengers access to their smartphones, tablets, mp3 players, and laptops within a matter of days. Meanwhile, rival WestJet has set a timetable for “early this summer” for when their passengers could expect the change to take effect.
Despite the lifting of the ban, there are still a few rules that passengers will need to consider in regards to the use of their electronic devices. For instance, making phone calls on cell phones is still prohibited at all times, and every devices will need to be “airplane mode” for most of the flight. That is the popular term for a setting on most smartphones and tablets that turns off all radio transmitters (cell service and Wi-Fi) in order to avoid creating potential interference with onboard avionics. Planes equipped with wireless Internet service will allow the use of Wi-Fi once the flight is safely in the air.
Frequent travelers in the U.S. and Europe have already come to appreciate the lifting of the ban. It has freed them to continue listening to music, watching movies, or reading books on their smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. Larger laptops still need to be stowed until the plane has reached a safe cursing altitude, but now that is because of the danger of such a device flying about the cabin, and not out of fear of electronic interference.
Since the change in policy went into effect in the U.S. and the E.U. last year, there have been no reported issues with electronic devices interfering with aircraft. For years, the justification for forcing passengers to turn off their devices was because there was a fear that it could disrupt crucial instrumentation, and potential cause a catastrophic accident. Those fears seem unfounded now, although I think we can all agree that safety should always be the first concern.
Moving forward, the airlines themselves will announce when passengers can begin using their electronic devices during takeoff and landing. If the U.S. airlines are any indication, it should only be a few weeks before that happens.