THE USA seems poised to ban laptops and tablets from being carried on board aircraft by passengers travelling there from Europe.
Fears of terrorism means officials want larger personal electronic devices to be put in luggage in the cargo hold instead.
Concerns are growing the move would cause mass confusion, could put planes in MORE danger and also badly hit ticket sales.
The USA already has a similar policy for travellers from some Middle Eastern countries … and airlines from those countries says the ban has had a major impact on ticket sales, especially from business passengers.
This ban only affects about 50 flights a day – but that will be dwarfed by a ban from European countries which sees 400 daily flights carrying around 65 million passengers every year. This is the world’s busiest corridor of air travel.
There are fears a ban will provoke chaos and confusion at baggage check-in and would put off many people travelling to the USA.
It is understood that European countries are now holding urgent talks with the US Department of Homeland Security.
The proposal is also likely to cause major safety fears. Under the plan many more lithium-ion batteries would be in the devices in suitcases in the hold and if they should become faulty and catch fire they burn at such high temperatures it is unlikely the fire suppression system would be able to cope. The fire would be fuelled by exploding cans of products such as hairspray and deodorants, In the worst scenario the fire would spread out of control and could bring a plane down.
USA officials have said the decision in March to bar laptops and tablets from the cabins of some international flights – mainly from the Middle East - wasn’t based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners.
Experts say a bomb in the cabin would be easier to make and require less explosive force than one in the cargo hold. Baggage in cargo usually goes through a more sophisticated screening process than carry-on bags.
Associated Press reports that Jeffrey Price, an aviation-security expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the original ban focused on certain countries because their equipment to screen carry-on bags is not as effective as machines in the USA.
Unnamed officials are suggesting it’s a matter of when and not if the ban would be imposed.
Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline, cited the ban on electronics as one of the reasons for an 80% drop in profits last year. It said the ban had a direct impact on demand for air travel into the USA.
But millions of children also use tablets and they would also be banned from having them in the cabin to entertain them on long haul flights.
For more on this story go to https://apnews.com/0add9c7f8af044fe9eaaec97afad3f1b
Many airlines now carry AvSax fire mitigation bags on board to deal with fire in personal electronic devices. They were deployed 27 times in 2017.
If an electronic device starts to seriously overheat or emit smoke the cabin crew will pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax. It is imperative to first knock down the flames from the device using an on board halon fire extinguisher, then transfer the device into AvSax before it reignites. Additional water is then required. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the energy.
The AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery igniting but if it does go into thermal runaway it is all contained within the bag.
Amazingly, the water is absorbed into the internal lining of the bag so the device is dry when it is removed.