Plane laptop ban may compromise safety – regulator

Europe’s aviation regulator and a pilots’ group says the decision by U.S. and British authorities to ban certain electronics from passenger cabins creates another risk: Fires in the cargo hold. Mia Womersley reports.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / ISTANBUL, TURKEY / NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (Reuters) – The idea was to make air travel safer.

Laptops banned from the cabin on some flights to the U.S.

But now it’s thought having them in the baggage hold could be just as dangerous.

That’s because of the risk of battery fires.

Two weeks ago U.S. and British authorities banned gadgets larger than smartphones from cabins on flights from certain countries.

That over fears they could be used to conceal bombs.

But now the European Aviation Safety Agency says lithium batteries inside electronic devices actually should be carried in the cabin.

It’s echoing concerns from air crew.

Last week a group representing 38,000 European pilots said it was “seriously concerned” about the ban, explaining that a fire in the hold might be impossile to extinguish, especially if lithium batteries are stored together.

Now the EASA recommendation is not mandatory.

But it will rekindle a debate about the new rules, which some airline chiefs have criticised as inconsistent or ineffective and demonstrate that solving one problem, can just lead to another.