Due to safety concerns, large electronic devices powered by lithium batteries like laptops will soon be banned from boarding an airplane.
Lithium batteries are commonly used in portable electronic devices as a reliable and a rechargeable power source. You can find these batteries in devices like cameras, tabs, watches, phones, laptops and even pacemakers.
The biggest lithium batteries can be found in portable computers (Laptops).
Are They Dangerous?
In recent years, there have been several unfortunate incidents on-board airplanes that are believed to be the result of fire caused by these batteries, according to 10 tests conducted by the FAA.
Here is the thing, many of us take our laptops and other large electronics in our carry-on bags and board a plane. Well, FAA has found an interesting pattern.
In the 10 tests, laptops were placed inside of suitcases and a heater was set against the batteries to intentionally overheat them. The purpose is to see what kind of circumstances that could cause these batteries to catch fire.
In one of the suitcases, a can of aerosol dry shampoo (within the permitted package size) and a computer with a Lithium battery were packed and tested with the heating agent.
The battery overheated, as expected, and then the aerosol can heated as well. The can caught fire.
The fire was intense to the point where the plane firefighting systems (cargo-hold fire suppression system) cannot put it off.
The same situation happens with other items like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol.
Can You Ban Nail Polish From Planes?
The short answer is NO!!
The issue now is that Aviation Authorities cannot find an easy way to ban nail polish or hand sanitizers. As a result, the next logical step is to eliminate the threat – in this case – the batteries.
“According to an official FAA document uploaded by PetaPixel’s Michael Zhang, the agency is proposing a ban on large personal electronics (anything bigger than a cell phone) in checked baggage.” ~engadget.com
In the document, the FAA said:
“We believe that it would be difficult for passengers to understand and correctly meet requirements that vary based on the specific content of their checked baggage,” the FAA said in the document.”
So, What’s Next?
The FAA presented the results to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Multidisciplinary Cargo Safety Group and recommended strict regulation to address safety concerns associated with lithium batteries.
ICAO met in Paris in July and its members have agreed to revisit the guidelines around large electronic devices.
A ban on these large devices is very likely to take place in the near future.
According to Engadget.com:
The current document was presented to the Dangerous Goods Panel, a multi-national working group that tells governments what provisions to introduce into national legislation. The proposed ban is set to be discussed this week and next (20 Oct – 5 Nov). We’ve reached out to the FAA for more details and will update this post when we hear back.
So, soon, you might not be able to bring any device larger than a cellphone onboard any airplanes.
This issue is not new. Here is a report from NBCNEWS from 2014:
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