Passengers on US airlines should be able to use portable electronic devices during take-off and landing by the end of the year, the Federal Aviation Administration has said.
The FAA is providing airlines with guidance on implementation.
It said: "Due to differences among fleets and operations, the implementation will vary among airlines, but the agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year."
The FAA added passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, "with very limited exceptions".
However, electronic items, books and magazines must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing.
Mobile phones must be in flight mode or with cellular service disabled — no signal bars displayed — and cannot be used for voice communications. Onboard wifi can also be used, as can short-range Bluetooth accessories, such as wireless keyboards.
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future."
The news comes several months after Air France announced its passengers can enjoy in-flight entertainment from the moment they arrive at their seats until they disembark on select long-haul flights (see news, July 2013). That relaxation of rules followed in the footsteps of British Airways (see news, November 2012).