Transport Canada relaxes in-flight mobile device rules

Turning off your mobile device for takeoff and landing; it’s just one of those things that’s part of air travel these days, like taking off your shoes or explaining why your three-year-old’s stuffed dinosaur isn’t weapons-grade.

That seems to be changing. Canada’s transportation regulator has just announced that air passengers will now be allowed to use mobile devices during all phases of flight, takeoff and landing included.

Transport Canada has announced a special exemption to the Canadian Aviation Regulations which will allow the use of portable electronic devices such as cameras, electronic games, tablets and computers whenever passengers want. Devices capable of transmission, such as tablets, smart phones and e-readers will still have to be in airport mode (i.e. not transmitting).

Transport Canada’s Advisory Circular (AC) No. 700-005, published at the beginning of April, states that

use of passenger-operated non-transmitting PEDs during take-off, climb, approach and landing is currently prohibited by the CARs. However, based on documents developed by RTCA Inc. and information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) believes that sufficient mitigation can occur to allow for safe operation of non-transmitting PEDs during take-off, climb, approach and landing, otherwise known as critical phases of flight.

Airlines have to meet Transport Canada safety requirements. They have to show that their aircraft aren’t 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. They’re also required to amend operations manuals, flight attendant manuals, and flight crew training programs to reflect the regulatory change.

“This is great news for air passengers, and an exciting day for the Canadian aviation industry,” said Transport Minister Lisa Raitt in making the announcement. “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.”

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Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks is managing editor of IT World Canada. He has been a technology journalist and editor for 20 years, including stints at Technology in Government, Computing Canada and other publications.

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