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Relaxing electronic gadget rules on European flights

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LONDON (CNNMoney) — It’s not just the U.S. relaxing rules for using electronic gadgets while in flight. The top aviation regulator in Europe said Wednesday that it plans to soon allow airline passengers in Europe to use their smartphones, tablets and e-books during take-off and landing.

The European Aviation Safety Agency plans to publish guidelines by the end of the month that will outline exactly how the gadgets can be used, provided they are set to ‘Flight Mode’.

Bulky electronics, such as laptops, will still need to be stowed away during taxiing, take-off and landing.

“This is a major step in the process of expanding the freedom to use personal electronic devices on-board aircraft without compromise in safety,” said Patrick Ky, the executive director of the EASA.

The agency also said that it’s considering allowing passengers to use their mobile phones to make calls during flights. But this would be a longer-term goal.

The news comes two weeks after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced that airline passengers in the United States would be permitted to use gadgets throughout their flights. The one notable exception: cell phones for voice communication. That remains banned on all U.S. flights.

The FAA said implementation times would vary, but it expected all planes would allow passengers to use their devices non-stop by the end of the year, provided they’re turned to ‘Flight Mode.’

JetBlue, Delta, United Continental and US Airways have already jumped on the FAA’s new rules, allowing the use of personal electronic devices since the start of the month.

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