FAA wants airlines to ban cameras and other electronics from checked bags
The Federal Aviation Administration wants airlines to ban cameras and other electronics from checked luggage, citing the fire and explosion risk presented by the devices' lithium-ion batteries. After conducting tests involving these batteries, the FAA found that if one were heated to the point where it caught fire near an aerosol can (think: hairspray), it could result in an explosion so quick and powerful that it would render a plane's fire suppression system useless.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most common variety found in consumer electronics, and they're well known for being volatile. But in a recent paper submitted to the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the FAA highlighted tests demonstrating these batteries as a potential fire risk that, in the most extreme case, could even result in "the loss of an aircraft."
The tests found that a battery fire next to an aerosol can could cause an explosion before the plane's fire suppression system could put the fire out. That subsequent explosion could, in turn, be powerful enough to disable the suppression system, enabling the fire to grow catastrophically.
The Administration also tested battery fires next to items that are commonly placed in checked luggage, including hand sanitizer and nail polish remover, and found that they could contribute to large fires. The conclusion is straight forward: lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage could put both aircraft passengers and crew members at major risk should one of the batteries ignite... something that has happened before, albeit in the cabin.
The agency wants airlines around the world to ban these items from checked luggage, requiring passengers to put them in carry-on bags instead. The ICAO is scheduled to discuss the proposed ban during a panel taking place over the next week.
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