US, EU officials discuss ban on in-flight laptops

Jay Anderson
May 19, 2017

The European Aviation Safety Agency, the EU counterpart to the Federal Aviation Administration, counseled in April the exact opposite of the US proposal, telling airlines that personal electronic devices "should preferably be carried in the passenger cabin" so that flight attendants could more easily address fires if lithium-ion batteries combust.

Representatives from both groups will meet again in Washington next week.

If it spreads to Europe, "it's simply a matter of time" before laptops are banned in the cabins of domestic USA flights, he said.

While there's no ban for now, talks between USA and European Union air security officials are continuing. The International Air Transport Association said the ban would cost $1.1 billion in lost productivity and added travel time.

Both sides said they meant to hold more talks next week in Washington on a possible ban of such equipment.

Two airline officials who were briefed on the discussions said Homeland Security gave no timetable for an announcement, but they were resigned to its inevitability.

The laptop ban reportedly came out because of intelligence that ISIS terrorists may hide bombs in the devices, information about which President Trump himself may famously spilled to Russian diplomats.

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IATA said that if governments agree that wider curbs are necessary they should consider applying measures to enhance security while avoiding the concentration of devices in holds.

"An expanded electronics ban would disproportionately affect airlines' most profitable customers-business travelers", Harteveldt continues.

There is also the question of the relative safety of keeping a large number of electronics with lithium batteries, which have been known to catch fire, in the cargo area.

Experts say a bomb in the cabin would be easier to make and require less explosive force than one in the hold.

Together, these five airports accounted for almost 50 percent of the weekly flights to the US.

"We don't doubt the security threats that have led to consideration of extending the ban on devices but we urge the authorities to carefully assess the additional fire risk from storing more PEDs in the hold to ensure we're not solving one problem by creating a worse one", he said.

The United States is considering broadening its ban on the use of laptops and tablets inside airliner cabins on flights from Europe. Be prepared for another indignity: The White House is considering new rules that will prevent passengers from carrying laptops aboard flights from London and several European cities to the U.S. And such a proposal wouldn't just inconvenience customers; it has the potential to devastate the airline industry by driving away customers and leading to a sharp drop-off in bookings and profits. At present they are not affected, because only Middle Eastern and North African airlines fly the specified routes.

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