European Air Regulator Raises Safety Concerns Over Electronics Ban

Aviation agency says it would prefer devices restricted by U.S. and Britain to be carried in planes’ cabins

By ROBERT WALL

LONDON—Europe’s aviation safety regulator Wednesday effectively issued a warning about the U.S. and British decision to ban electronic devices such as laptops from a plane’s cabin on some flights.

The U.S. and U.K. last month barred passengers on inbound flightsfrom certain Middle Eastern and North African airports from carrying on devices such as tablets, laptops and other larger electronics. Passengers are being instructed to instead leave the devices behind or place them in their checked bags. Officials in Washington and London said they acted to mitigate global threats against aviation from terrorism.

Safety regulators have long worried about the risk to flights from lithium batteries catching fire while on board. Those batteries are generally used in the devices the two countries have restricted. Safety regulators had been urging devices with lithium batteries to be carried in the cabin to allow airline staff to deal with problems, such as overheating or fire, should they arise.

The U.S. targeted flights from 10 airports. The U.K. restrictions apply to flights from six countries.

The European Aviation Safety Agency issued a special safety information bulletin, a notice to airlines about its concerns, reminding carriers that such devices “should preferably be carried in the passenger cabin, on the person or in the carry-on baggage.”

Airlines placing more electronic gadgets in checked luggage or a plane’s cargo hold should take precautions “to mitigate the associated risks, such as fire in the cargo hold,” the Cologne, Germany-based regulator said.

A spokesman for Britain’s Department for Transport said it would stick to its rules. Spare lithium batteries already can’t be carried on board and, the spokesman said, the government didn’t see a risk from batteries contained within devices even if they are transported in checked bags.

British Airways , one of Europe’s biggest airlines affected by the British ban, referred questions to the government.

The EASA said airlines should ensure the devices barred from the cabin aren’t damaged in flight. Damage to lithium batteries is seen as potential cause of fire. The EASA said the devices placed in checked bags should be contained in proper packaging, rigid bags or other protection to minimize the risk of damage. It also said airlines should ensure the devices are fully switched off before being stored and protected against accidental activation.

The US and UK airline electronics ban was prompted in part by a plot involving a fake iPad

Earlier this week, United States and United Kingdom officials announced new restrictions for airline passengers from eight Middle Eastern countries, forbidding passengers to carry electronics larger than a smartphone into an airplane cabin. According to a security source, the ban was prompted in part by a plot involving explosives hidden in a fake iPad.

The Guardian reports that the bans were “were not the result of a single specific incident but a combination of factors,” and that one of those factors was a plot to use a fake iPad to bring explosives onboard a plane. Further details, such as when the bombing would be carried out, the group behind it, or the nation from which the plan originated, were not divulged.

DETAILS OF THIS PARTICULAR PLOT REMAIN UNDER WRAPS
This delivery method is not unprecedented. In February 2016, a Somali plane was able to land after a passenger detonated a bomb, possibly hidden in a laptop, shortly after takeoff. The Guardian notes that a bomb placed in a passenger cabin can have more of an impact than one placed in the cargo hold, because the would-be bomber could position the explosive against a door or window.

The ban implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security includes laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, and handheld gaming devices, and will require passengers to check those items with their baggage. At the time, DHS explained its rationale after “evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.” The US ban affects inbound, direct flights from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, while the UK ban affects flights from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey.

By the Verge

This Airline Is Letting Passengers Use Banned Electronics Until the Last Second

Emirates Airlines will allow passengers to carry their laptops and tablets through security and to their gates instead of checking them with their luggage in wake of the Trump administration’s electronics ban.
As a means to lighten the effect of the ban, the Dubai-based airline company will offer a packaging service at the gates of U.S.-bound flights for these electronics. The service makes it so travelers can use their devices up until they board their flights.
“Our aim is to ensure compliance with the new rules, while minimizing disruption to passenger flow and impact on customer experience,” Emirates President Tim Clark said in a statement released Thursday.
He added that the majority of Emirates’ passengers — 90% — use their smartphones to connect to onboard WiFi connect. Only 6% connect to the WiFi with their laptops, and 4% do so with their tablets.
The U.S. issued a security directive involving 10 Middle Eastern airports earlier this week — banning all personal electronics larger than a cell phone on U.S.-bound flights. The ban will go into effect March 25.
There was no specific threat that spurred than ban, though the Department of Homeland Security mentioned an incident in which a man detonated an explosive device in a laptop on a Somali passenger jet in February 2016. Such a device could not be used in cell phones, experts reached by TIME have said.
The electronics ban is not permanent, but also does not have a set end date. Clark urged passengers to think on the bright side about the electronics policy. “Perhaps the silver lining to this is that they can now justifiably give themselves a break from their devices,” Clark said.

Donald Trump’s electronics ban: What does it means for airline passengers?

Emirates Electronics Ban on flights to the USA.
Emirates Electronics Ban on flights to the USA.

What we know so far about how the electronics ban will affect your journey

Since the ban on large electronic devices in the cabins of flights from six Middle Eastern and North African countries was announced, questions have flooded in to The Independent travel desk. Simon Calder, travel correspondent (and a former security officer at Gatwick airport), tackles the key issues.

Which airports and airlines are affected?

All airports in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey with direct flights to the UK. In the case of Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia, the only flights are from their capitals — Amman, Beirut and Tunis — to Heathrow. But from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey there are flights from multiple airports to a range of UK destinations.

Continue reading “Donald Trump’s electronics ban: What does it means for airline passengers?”

Trump’s Electronics Ban on Airplanes Makes Less Sense Every Day

Trump Electronics Ban
Trump Electronics Ban
Trump Electronics Ban

Here’s a riddle: If a Trump policy targets random locations in the Middle East, and nobody can explain it, does anybody really know what’s happening? It’s a tough riddle because it’s practically impossible to answer. Yet, this is our reality now.

In a little less than 72 hours, the Trump administration’s ban on allowing electronic devices “larger than a smartphone” in the cabins of planes flying from Middle Eastern airports will take effect. When the policy was announced, it was entirely unclear what was prompting the seemingly arbitrary list of airports that would be affected and even more unclear if the policy would actually improve security. At first glance, newly reported details seem to offer some clarity, but they actually just obfuscate the reasoning behind the ban even more.

Continue reading “Trump’s Electronics Ban on Airplanes Makes Less Sense Every Day”

What’s behind the electronics ban on airplanes?

In response to potential terror threats, the United States announced new security measures that prevent passengers from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone onboard cabins of certain flights to the U.S. The temporary ban affects direct flights to the U.S. from eight countries: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.).

According to former CIA deputy director and CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell, the announcement implies the U.S. has “credible intelligence of a plot to attack an airliner with the larger devices that must now be checked.”

But with 10 airports and nine airlines in the countries being told they have 96 hours (until Saturday) to comply, Morell said on “CBS This Morning” that it doesn’t sound like an “imminent threat.”

“It sounds more like a general plot that we’ve learned about. A plan to do something significant, but not specific,” Morell said.

A U.S. official said the ban tracks back to the laptop bombing of an airliner out of Mogadishu, Somalia last year, which blew a hole in a jet and killed one passenger, believed to be a suicide bomber. Had the bomb gone off at high altitude, it would have been disastrous. Since then there has been an accumulation of intelligence that convinced analysts that al-Qaeda has developed the capability to hide explosives within batteries of the size used in laptops and tablets, reports CBS News correspondent David Martin.
“So, the fact that it’s focused on putting explosives into electronic devices and focused on airlines suggests al-Qaeda. But when you actually look at the countries, it looks more like ISIS, particularly when you put Turkey in there,” Morell said. “So, at this point, I don’t think we know which group is behind this. It could be either one.”

Al Qaeda and its affiliate, al-Nusra Front, is a growing problem, Morell said.

“As we have been focused on ISIS for of the last five years, al Qaeda has rebounded,” he said. “It’s rebounded in Yemen. It is rebounding in Afghanistan. And it is actually a growing problem in Syria on the al-Nusra group.”

The U.K. has also issued a similar electronics ban for direct flights arriving there from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey — a slightly different list of countries than those named by the U.S.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

US and UK Ban Large Electronic Devices inside Cabins from Middle East and North Africa: What You Need to Know

On Tuesday, both the U.S. and U.K. announced changes to security procedures regarding electronic devices in the cabin of flights originating from certain countries. This is expected to affect numerous passengers.

The US Ban

The U.S. Government has announced that airlines flying non-stop to the United States from certain airports will not allow passengers to carry certain electronic items onboard as carry-ons.

The announcement includes foreign airlines flying to the U.S. from 10 international airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (2), Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (2).

Airlines will have until Saturday, March 25 at 0700 GMT to enforce the ban. Cell phones and electronic medical equipment will be exempt but laptops, electronic games, tablets, cameras, and other large electronic devices will only be allowed onboard as checked luggage in the aircraft’s hold.

Airlines affected by the announcement include Egyptair from Cairo, Emirates from Dubai, Etihad from Abu Dhabi, Kuwait Airways from Kuwait, Qatar Airways from Doha, Royal Air Maroc from Casablanca, Royal Jordanian from Amman, Saudia from Jeddah and Riyadh, and Turkish Airlines from Istanbul.

Overall, the U.S. ban is expected to affect approximately 50 flights per day, according to CNNMoney.

Reports suggest that the ban resulted from U.S intelligence discovering a possible terrorist threat that hasn’t been publicly specified.

The ban will be forced under the law code 49 CFR 1542.303 stating the “TSA (Transportation Security Administration) may issue an Information Circular to notify airport operators of security concerns. When TSA determines that additional security measures are necessary to respond to a threat assessment or to a specific threat against civil aviation, TSA issues a Security Directive setting forth mandatory measures.”

Because of this, foreign airlines flying into the United States will be forced to comply or they could face disciplinary actions.

Royal Jordanian Airlines reacted earlier this week via twitter, but then deleted their tweet replacing it with “Further updates will be announced soon regarding #electronicsban.”

The UK Ban

The UK ban was outlined by government officials shortly after the US ban was officially announced. The ban affects direct flights to the UK from Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Lebanon.

The UK ban also affects more airline including flag carrier British Airways and Easyjet, Jet2, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Monarch, Turkish Airways, Pegasus Airways, Atlas-Global Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Egyptair, Tunis Air, Royal Jordanian, and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Like counterparts in the United States, UK officials do not cite a specific threat but a need for an increase in security.

Unlike the U.S., the UK government has left it up to the airlines to enforce the ban, not giving a specific date for enforcement.

Analysis

Last year a Daallo Airlines flight from Somalia, made an emergency landing in Mogadishu after a passenger exploded a bomb believed to be hidden in a laptop. The bomb only killed the terrorist, while the aircraft, an Airbus A321 received damage to the fuselage but was able to safely land.

The ban is reportedly in place after concerns have grown on both sides of the Atlantic of a similar attack on a U.S. or UK bound aircraft.

A Metrojet aircraft bound for Russia from Egypt exploded over the Sinai Peninsula, with authorities believing the bomb was placed in an electronic device, however, this was believed to be stored in the hold.

Parents have also been critical of the ban on social media, with many using tablets to entertain their children on long haul flights. Concerns have also been raised about the increase in theft of these high-value devices in checked luggage.

The ban was made in the name of safety according to officials in both the UK and the U.S. They also understand it will be difficult for travelers to adjust but they say it’s necessary to keep commercial travel safe.

– Airlinegeeks

Donald Trump electronics ban against eight Muslim-majority countries set to continue for seven months

Prohibition will continue at least until October

A seven-month ban on any electronic devices bigger than a mobile phone being taken into an aircraft cabin is about to begin — on a very specific set of flights.

The affected routes are to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa – all in countries with Muslim majorities.

The US authorities are believed to be concerned about a possible attempt to down a plane by smuggling explosives on board in the battery compartment of an electronic device.

The airline with by far the largest network to the US from the region is Emirates, based in Dubai.

A spokesperson for the airline told The Independent: “Emirates can confirm that as per the new security directive issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone, excluding medical devices, cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft.

“The directive comes into effect on 25 March 2017 and is valid until 14 October 2017.

“It is applicable to all US-bound passengers from Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through.

“Emirates requests that all passengers travelling to the US pack all electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone in their checked-in baggage.”

Qatar Airways, based in Doha, said all its US-bound flights from today would be subject to the new rules: “Effective 21 March in accordance with new United States government regulations, all passengers travelling on United States-bound flights are prohibited from carrying any electronic devices on board the flight other than cellular and smart phones and medical devices needed during the flight.

The carrier said it had made “special arrangements to assist passengers in securing their devices in the aircraft’s baggage hold”.

But at Abu Dhabi airport, Etihad continues to insist that no instruction has been received. The carrier said: “The airline’s policies have not changed but we will continue to work closely with the authorities in the USA and here in Abu Dhabi through the officials of the Customs and Border Protection Unit at the airport.

“If the guidance is revised we will ensure our passengers are updated accordingly as safety and security remain a top priority.”

Turkish Airlines cited “concerned authorities” for a ban on electronic devices to its nine US destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, San Francisco and Washington DC. It says: “Those passengers will be easily able to transport their mentioned devices in the baggage hold area of the aircraft.”

​Flights to the US from Casablanca and Cairo, hubs respectively for Royal Air Maroc and Egyptair, are also affected.

The news first broke in a now-deleted tweet from Royal Jordanian, which said the ban was based on “instructions from the concerned US departments”. The Transportation Security Administration has yet formally to comment.

U.S. Limits Devices for Passengers on Foreign Airlines From Eight Countries

Passengers on foreign airlines headed to the United States from 10 airports in eight majority-Muslim countries have been barred from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone under a new flight restriction enacted on Tuesday by the Trump administration.

Officials called the directive an attempt to address gaps in foreign airport security, and said it was not based on any specific or credible threat of an imminent attack.

The Department of Homeland Security said the restricted items included laptop computers, tablets, cameras, travel printers and games bigger than a phone. The restrictions would not apply to aircraft crews, officials said in a briefing to reporters on Monday night that outlined the terms of the ban.

The new policy took effect at 3 a.m. E.D.T. on Tuesday, and must be followed within 96 hours by airlines flying to the United States from airports in Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

It applies only to flights on foreign carriers, and not American-operated airlines. Officials did not say how long the ban would remain in place or if other airports would be added.

Royal Jordanian, the state-run airline of the Hashemite kingdom, said that medical items are exempt from the ban, and that larger electronic items could still be carried in checked baggage. It announced the changes to what it called “our dearest passengers” in a Twitter post Monday afternoon that was later deleted.

by New York Times

Emirates Cabin luggage restrictions to the United States

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a directive regarding electronic devices in cabin luggage on US routes from Dubai.

As per the directive, except for medical devices, electronic devices which are larger than a cell phone/smart phone cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft. This would be effective on 25 March 2017, and is valid until 14 October 2017. This is applicable to all US-bound passengers from Dubai International Airport, whether originating or transiting through. Emirates requests that all passengers travelling to the US pack all electronic devices larger than a smart phone in their checked-in baggage.

More details will be provided as they become available.