Airlines’ tech ban still a safety risk: EU

Preferably be carried inside cabins so that any problems could be tackled easily

BERLIN/PARIS: Europe’s aviation regulator voiced concern on Wednesday over the risk of battery fires in the cargo holds of passenger planes after US and British authorities banned certain electronics from passenger cabins despite US assurances that its agency had been thoroughly briefed on the proper handling of electronics.
The European Aviation Safety Agency, which is responsible for safe flying in 32 countries, said personal electronic devices (PED) carried a fire risk due to their lithium batteries and should preferably be carried inside passenger cabins so that any problems could be identified and dealt with.
The European agency, however, warned in a bulletin: “When the carriage of PEDs in the cabin is not allowed, it leads to a significant increase of the number of PEDs in the cargo compartment.” The European safety recommendation is not mandatory, but is likely to rekindle a debate about the new rules, which some airline chiefs have criticised as inconsistent or ineffective.
“With current airplane cargo hold fire suppression systems, it might prove to be impossible to extinguish a lithium battery fire in the cargo hold, especially when the batteries are stored together. Therefore, any event of this nature during flight would more than likely be catastrophic,” the European Cockpit Association said.
It is not the first time regulators have called for personal devices to be carried in the cabin, but possibly the first time such measures have clashed so directly with security considerations.
In 2015, international regulators urged airlines to transport lithium-powered hoverboards in the cabin following reports of the popular devices catching fire.
— Reuters