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

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.

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