Soon, Laptops May Be Banned From Check-In Luggage

| October 25 , 2017 , 12:55 IST

In the wake of electronic devices with large batteries catching fire, large personal electronic devices (PED) like laptops may soon be banned from check-in bags in flights due to the risk of a battery fire going undetected resulting in possible catastrophes.

If personal electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets or laptops catch fire inside the cabin, the crew is now trained to handle the fires as soon as smoke emitting is noticed. As recent as last week, when a mobile phone caught fire during a Delhi-Indore flight, the cabin crew was able to quickly douse the fire.

According to a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), international aviation agencies are considering banning larger PEDs from check-in bags and once any leading aviation agency makes the decision, India will likely follow suit. Currently, power banks, portable mobile chargers and e-cigarettes are banned in check-in baggage in India.

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The dangerous goods panel of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN agency, is examining safety concerns regarding PEDs being stowed in checked baggage. A test result submitted by the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claimed that fire in PED kept in the cargo hold "could lead to loss of aircraft" and were dangerous.

"FAA fire safety branch conducted 10 tests utilising a fully charged laptop computer inside a suitcase. A heater was placed against a lithium ion cell in the battery of a laptop to force it into thermal runaway.... it was concluded that if a PED is packed in a suitcase with an aerosol can and a thermal runaway event occurs, there is the potential for an aerosol can explosion.... (In some cases) the fire suppression system of the aircraft is then compromised, which could lead to the loss of the aircraft," said the ICAO.

Since PEDs cannot be banned entirely, keeping them in the passenger cabin is a safer option as the cabin crew can notice and take immediate action in case of any mishap.