The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is warning that lithium batteries in laptop computers could cause potentially catastrophic fires aboard aircraft, and urged an international aviation panel to ban laptops and other large electronic devices from international passengers’ checked baggage.
The Associated Press reports the FAA as saying that experiments showed a faulty laptop battery exploding in close proximity to an aerosol can, such as a bottle of hairspray, could cause a fire that overwhelms aircraft fire-suppression systems.
Fires traced to lithium batteries have destroyed three cargo aircraft and killed four pilots since 2006.
The agency shared its test results with the International Civil Aviation Organization and advised that large electronic devices be prohibited in checked luggage unless passengers get prior approval from their airline.
The European Safety Agency, aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Association, and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Association agreed with the recommendation.
The FAA made no similar call for a ban on domestic aircraft, and noted in the report that most travellers carry their laptops onto flights rather than checking their devices.
The US banned laptops from airliner cabins for flights inbound from ten airports in the Middle East in early 2017, citing terrorism concerns, but later lifted the ban after the airports improved their security procedures.