Virgin Australia says passengers will soon be able to watch television programs, movies or read e-books from the moment they board their flight until the aircraft arrives at the gate.
In a statement released late on Friday afternoon, Virgin Australia said it had applied to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for an exemption to existing rules which prevent the use of personal electronic devices while the aircraft was taxiing on the ground, or during takeoff and landing.
The application for an exemption was made following an update from the safety regulator, Virgin Australia said, and would apply on domestic and short-haul international flights using Boeing 737, Embraer E190 and Airbus A330 aircraft.
Passengers would be able to watch content stored on their own devices or via the airline’s in-flight wireless streaming service, with the device having to remain in flight mode.
“Pending CASA approval, Virgin Australia will work to immediately implement the use of hand-held personal electronic devices from gate to gate and will have further updates for customers in coming days,” the Virgin Australia statement said.
CASA issued an updated air worthiness bulletin (AWB) on Friday afternoon, which cleared the way for airlines to allow passengers to use portable electronic devices in flight subject to certain conditions, including among other matters the approval of the aircraft manufacturer, that procedures are in place to ensure those on board pay attention to safety demonstrations and that the devices are secured either in the hand and not loose.
Moreover, devices one kilogram or heavier will have to be stowed during takeoff and landing.
“CASA has consulted with a number of regular public transport operators in relation to the issue of the exemption,” the bulletin, dated August 22, said.
“The terms of the exemption have been agreed to without any objections.
“CASA has also published guidance for industry on the use of PEDs to align the Australian legislative and policy requirements as far as practicable with those of other aviation agencies.”
It was understood Virgin could be given the go-ahead early next week.
Qantas too has been waiting for the green light for passengers to use their personal devices throughout the flight.
“Pending approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, customers will be able to use their portable electronic devices in flight mode throughout the entire flight,” Qantas domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi said in a statement on July 31.
Qantas also offers wireless streaming of in-flight entertainment on certain aircraft.