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Mobile devices get green light for use on selected flights

From today passengers aboard domestic and international Qantas and Virgin flights will be able to use their mobile phones.

There’s a catch though: the phone must remain in flight mode.

The two airlines were granted approval to the change the rules after applying to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) – the body that previously forced passengers to turn off phones and other devices because it was considered a safety risk.

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said technological advancements had allowed for the changes.

“Aircraft are now designed and built with electromagnetic interference in mind,” he said.

“So [passengers] can leave their devices, laptops, smartphones, tablets on from gate to gate.

“For big devices such as laptops you will need to stow them during take off and landing due to the risk of turbulence.”

Qantas’s head of engineering, Alan Milne, told ABC the changes would take effect from this afternoon.

But he said once the aircraft doors were closed, the devices would need to be in flight mode.

“There’s no network coverage up there anyway so there’s no reason for having them on,” he said.

“But it will enable [passengers] to write emails or text messages that will be sent when they switch back to normal mode after landing.”

The changes will start at 3:00pm (AEST) with other airlines expected to soon follow suit.