Air passengers may not need to turn off their electronic devices on planes in China after the civil aviation authority relaxed rules on using mobile devices during flights on Monday, allowing individual airlines to access the practicability on their own.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China's (CAAC) revised regulation, which comes into force in October, Chinese airline companies will be allowed to decide if Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) like smartphones and tablets could be used during flights and set up their own management and usage rules.
Zhu Tao, deputy director of the CAAC, said at a press conference that he "believes that in the near future, you will see China's airline companies allowing the use of relevant portable electronic devices."
At present, Chinese airlines are still barring passengers from switching on or operating e-devices during flights. Flight attendants will emphasize the rule before the planes take off, urging passengers to turn off the devices.
Being enforced in next month, the rule does not mean passengers could soon use smartphones during flights, as many companies have to set their rules and gain approve from the CAAC. Zhang Wuan, from Spring Airlines, told Being Youth Daily that passengers may use cell phones during flights in the first half of next year, at the earliest.
Netizens on China's Twitter-like Weibo have welcomed the impending change, but also expressed their concerns toward the popularity of WiFi on airplanes.
"I fully support it, otherwise it will be a boring trip on a plane," @shiliangushiguan said.
"But smartphones have no signal during flights and the prevalence of WiFi equipment on planes in China can be counted by fingers," @benbenxiongderichang noted.
Apart from relaxing rules on e-devices, the regulation also designed to improve safety with measures that include addressing airline crew members' fatigue risks and qualifications as well as improving management training.
All carriers will need to implement these new changes by the end of 2019.
The restrictions of e-devices on flight dated back to the 1960s, when the Federal Aviation Administration of United States (FAA) banned it because of concerns about Citizens band radios in flight, a system of short-distance radio communications between individuals.
Following FAA, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and NASA claimed using PEDs on airplanes would cause safety concerns.
In 2013, however, both the U.S. and European Union's aviation regulatory bodies changed their policies too loose regulations barring the use of e-devices on flights.