San Francisco: Next week UN aviation Agency is going to discuss and study a Global Laptop Ban on all flights.
This came after the push by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ban laptop computers and other. First the US government temporarily banned laptops in the cabins of some airplanes. Now it is looking to ban them on from checked luggage on international flights, citing the risk of potentially catastrophic fires.
“If you’re among those who travel with a laptop, tablet, or digital camera, get ready for a huge mess,” wrote Wired, a respected tech magazine.
“We need to move into planning mode, not just worrying mode,” it said. Wired has said that while officials prefer to overreact than take the chance that they will be blamed for something that goes wrong later on, it said: “There is no good advice” on the matter.
But it gave practical trips to flyers: If electronics can still be stowed in checked luggage, the first priority is to find ways to curb risk associated with theft or tampering, it said.The United Nations will consider the proposal in the coming week.
It’s unclear if the FAA plans to extend the proposed ban to domestic flights as well, but it did note the danger of connecting international flights.
The fears center around the rechargeable lithium-ion battery in devices such as laptops and its proximity to other objects, such as an aerosol spray can of hairspray or dry shampoo. The two could, in the right conditions, cause an explosion within 40 seconds, based on tests FAA had conducted.
Based on those test results, the FAA was able to convince UN’s Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) two years ago to ban cargo shipments of lithium batteries on passenger planes, and to require that batteries shipped on cargo planes be charged no more than 30 percent. The risk of overheating is lower if the battery isn’t fully charged.
More recently, the FAA conducted 10 tests of fully-charged laptops packed in suitcases.
In one test, an 8-ounce aerosol can of dry shampoo, which is permitted in checked baggage, was strapped to the laptop.
A heater was placed against the laptop’s battery to force it into “thermal runaway”, a condition in which the battery’s temperature continually rises.
There was a fire almost immediately and an explosion within 40 seconds; FAA said that in those tests, they saw enough force to potentially disable the plane fire suppression system.
When the fire suppression system on a commercial aircraft is disabled, left unchecked, it could cause the ultimate destruction of the plane, says the FAA.
Other tests of laptop batteries packed in suitcases with goods like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol also resulted in large fires, although no explosions.
While most devices larger than a smartphone are already being carried onto flights, rather than checked, says the FAA, the risk of an in-cabin incident is notably smaller.
The proposed ban is being discussed at a meeting of the UN ICAO panel on dangerous goods, which is being held this week and next week in Montreal.