Travelers to Canada will now be able to read, listen to music or play games at will anytime during their trip.
The Minister of Transport made the announcement Monday, stating passengers flying with Canadian air operators will soon be able to use portable electronic devices such as cameras, electronic games, tablets and computers during all phases of flight.
"This includes while an aircraft takes off, climbs, descends and lands, provided the device is in non-transmitting, or flight mode, and that their airline has met certain safety conditions outlined by Transport Canada," the government agency announced in a statement. "Previously, passengers could not use their devices at their leisure during take off and landing. This change, which is made possible through an exemption to the Canadian Aviation Regulations, means that passengers will soon be able to work or play whenever they please on flights in Canada."
The change comes nearly eight months after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration deemed it safe for U.S. travelers to use portable electronic devices. American carriers had to get individual approval from the FAA by proving their planes could handle the potential for electronic interference, and it seems Transport Canada will require similar standards.
"The use of electronic devices on any flight will be at the discretion of the air operators, who must demonstrate that their aircraft are not affected by the use of the devices and that during critical phases of flight and during emergencies, all passengers are aware of and able to follow crew instructions," the statement reads.
Pilots associations have urged caution with expanded use of PEDs in flight, insisting passengers may not understand how devices with transmitters can interfere with navigation systems. The Airline Pilots Association, International -- or ALPA -- is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 50,000 pilots at 32 airlines in the United States and Canada, expressed their concern when American carriers were approved for PED use in October last year.
"Use of PEDs must be free of any interference with onboard systems and with crewmembers’ ability to perform their safety duties. We believe that PEDs, like other loose items in the cabin, need to be stowed for takeoff and landing to ensure safety, and we are encouraged by the FAA’s emphasis of that need," an ALPA statement said.
Wireless signals sent from personal devices can impede the way a plane's navigation system "speaks" to the ground towers during critical phases of flight, especially landing. The transmitted signals from cell phones or tablets could potentially skew the data, and -- for example -- convince the onboard system the plane is at a different altitude.
One U.S. pilot who has been flying for a major carrier for more than 20 years told TheBlaze he's actually heard passenger cell phone calls in his headset while trying to land the airplane.
The Airline Pilots Association expressed concern over the FAA's ruling for use of portable electronic devices in October, saying that relying on passengers to cooperate and shut off wireless transmitting devices, especially during bad weather, may be unsafe (AP Photo/LM Otero).
"While we applaud the FAA’s view that PED use must be shown to be safe before being allowed, we remain concerned that relying on passengers to selectively turn off their devices in areas of extremely poor weather is not a practical solution. We urge passengers to realize the potential seriousness of using a device at a time when any crewmember—pilot or flight attendant—has advised them that it is unsafe to do so," ALPA said.
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