Technology At the heart of laptop ban debate, officials ask which is worse: Bombs or accidental battery fires?

14:01  19 may  2017
14:01  19 may  2017 Source:   Quartz

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At the heart of laptop ban debate , officials ask which is worse : Bombs or accidental battery fires ? In a debate over air travel safety, US and European officials agree on one thing: Laptops on flights could be dangerous.

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  At the heart of laptop ban debate, officials ask which is worse: Bombs or accidental battery fires? © Provided by Quartz In a debate over air travel safety, US and European officials agree on one thing: Laptops on flights could be dangerous.

The proposed expansion of a US ban on laptops and other large consumer electronics in cabins could land more of these devices in the luggage hold, creating the risk of accidental battery fires, officials have said. It would also be a logistical nightmare to enforce, with minute differences between accepted devices and banned ones. Last year, the UN’s aviation agency banned passengers from storing spare lithium batteries in their checked luggage.

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The Trump administration earlier this month said it was considering extending its cabin ban on laptops and other large consumer electronics to US-bound flights from Europe. The US in March prohibited passengers from carrying such devices on board when traveling from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. The US government had said terrorists might try to use those electronics to smuggle a bomb on board.

U.S. likely to expand airline laptop ban to Europe: government officials

  U.S. likely to expand airline laptop ban to Europe: government officials <p>The Trump administration is likely to expand a ban on laptops on commercial aircraft to include some European countries, but is reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage holds do not explode in midair, officials briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.</p> The Trump administration is likely to expand a ban on laptops on commercial aircraft to include some European countries, but is reviewing how to ensure lithium batteries stored in luggage holds do not explode in midair, officials briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

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Travelers flying from Europe to the US won’t yet have to part with their laptops and tablets. A meeting between European and US travel officials in Brussels this week ended with no ban, although the US Department of Homeland Security said it is still under consideration.

President Donald Trump admitted this week that he shared intelligence with Russian diplomats about threats to commercial aviation. That intelligence was reportedly related to the possibility that Islamic State could use a laptop in a terrorist attack on a commercial airliner. The laptop battery could be so well-masked that security screeners could power up the computer without detecting the device, USA Today reported, citing an unnamed government source.

Are you ready to forfeit your laptop when flying?

  Are you ready to forfeit your laptop when flying? Since 9/11, airline passengers have had to deal with the full panoply of security measures: bans on liquids, inspection of laptops at security gates, taking shoes off, not to mention coping with shrinking legroom and most recently, passengers getting dragged off planes. Now, the Trump administrationNow, the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security are contemplating a laptop ban that could cause even more tension between passengers and airlines.

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Currently, aviation officials warn that electronic devices using lithium-ion batteries should be kept in the passenger cabin so crew can quickly put out a fire on board. The UN aviation agency banned commercial airliners from carrying bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo after two fatal crashes of cargo planes carrying these batteries, in 2010 and 2011. The Federal Aviation Administration last year urged airlines to review safety procedures for carrying lithium ion batteries.

It isn’t yet clear whether the US will extend the cabin ban to flights from Europe, as officials will have to weigh the risk of two frightening scenarios.

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