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FAA Wants Airlines to Ban Laptops in Checked Luggage

October 26, 2017

The FAA is urging the International Civil Aviation Organization to ban large electronic devices like laptops from checked luggage on flights because of the risk of fire posed by lithium-ion batteries.

After a summer in which a laptop ban grabbed headlines, a new ban on large electronic devices could be in the works but this time, the ban would apply to electronics in checked luggage.

According to the Associated Press, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has filed a paper with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which sets global aviation safety standards, urging a ban on large electronic devices like laptops from checked luggage because of the risk of fire posed by lithium-ion batteries.

In a series of 10 FAA tests, lithium-powered laptops were forced into a "thermal runaway" by a heater, causing large fires. In one test, in which an aerosol can (that would be allowed in checked luggage) was strapped to the laptop, the aerosol can exploded, leaded to a fire that officials said could overwhelm an aircraft's fire suppression system and lead to the loss of the plane.

The ban proposal is on the agenda for an ICAO meeting this week and the next in Montreal, the Associated Press said. The AP did not say whether or not the ban should extend to domestic flights.

Earlier this year, larger electronic devices in the passenger cabin were entirely prohibited on flights from several countries in the Middle East. The ban was fully lifted after U.S. officials said airports in the region had taken other steps to increase security.

Then, in late June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced enhanced security measures for all flights into the United States, which also included greater screening of carry-on electronic devices. This led to the Mexican and Canadian governments enforcing additional security measures for electronic devices larger than a cellphone for passengers flying into the United States.

When this summer's laptop ban was in place, the Global Business Travel Association developed an 'uncertainty forecast' for 2017 that projected a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the United States in 2017.

Other travel industry organizations expressed concern that uncertainty over the travel landscape could have an even bigger impact on business travel, as international companies would be less willing to plan future meetings and events in the United States due to executive orders on travel.

Sources: International Meeting Review Global Business Travel Association