The use of mobile electronic devices is to be allowed on US aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration will permit passengers to use gadgets such as tablet computers and e-readers during take-off and landing.
But calls from mobile phones remain prohibited throughout flights under separate regulations.
The rule change covers lightweight, electrically-powered devices including music players, gaming consoles and smartphones – with the mobile telephone service disabled.
Individual airlines will have to assess whether their aircraft can handle the additional radio interference from the devices but many are expected to adopt the new guidelines by the end of the year.
The authority 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 did not consider changing the regulations regarding the use of cell phones for voice communications during flight because the issue is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.”
Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said: “We believe today’s decision honours both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights.
“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.”
FAA administrator Michael Huerta said: “There is one thing that won’t change. Passengers must take a break from their devices, their reading material, their music, whatever they are doing, and listen to the safety briefing before each flight. It is information that can save your life.”