Friday, 16 September 2016 11:00

It is not just the Note7 [Mark I] that should not fly

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As a recent international passenger to the USA, I can tell you first hand that it is not just the Samsung Galaxy Note7 that is on the no-fly list. We are back to crackdowns on power banks, and some airlines are insisting that portable devices like laptops and tablets not be plugged into the aircraft power supply.

Notices similar to that below were posted in US airports and in-flight safety announcements on some airlines amended to include reference to prohibiting in-flight charging.

IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICES (PED)

Passengers on some routes may be required to show that personal electronic devices (PED) are sufficiently charged before boarding. Passengers who don't meet these requirements face confiscation of devices and possible cancellation of their booking. It is possible this restriction may extend to additional countries in the short term. To prevent any confiscation of property or decreased productivity we strongly recommend you charge all personal electronic devices before travel.

Power banks need care, or you may have to leave them behind

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) makes recommendations (updated 9 September) that airlines usually enforce.

It allows batteries up to 100-watt hours* to be carried as cabin baggage but prohibits lithium metal and lithium ion/polymer batteries in checked baggage (in the plane’s cargo section). It also requires batteries to be protected from accidental short circuit via a carry case, pouch or placing insulating tape over any exposed terminals.

There were numerous incidents of fellow travellers being paged after check-in and security screening and asked to identify checked baggage that X-ray scanning had identified as possibly including a battery.

*Watt Hours are calculated as mAh/1000 x Volts e.g. 10000mAh/1000 x 5V = 50. What seems to be an issue at present is passengers carrying multiple power banks whose sum exceeds 100Wh although the FAA recommendation is per battery. Do not pack these on checked baggage under any circumstances.

The Note 7 is a definite no-fly in the US

The Note7 drew special mention on US domestic airlines where some have banned it from flying either in check-in, or cabin baggage.

The FAA urged travellers not to attempt to bring them onto the plane. “In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note7 devices, the FAA strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage,” it said in a statement on Thursday.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said airlines have conducted risk assessments and noted that other phones and portable electronic devices had been recalled for battery issues. "Although Samsung is the most recent company advising of faulty devices, there have been similar recalls and warnings regarding lithium batteries in laptops over the last 12 months, so the industry is familiar with and equipped to manage such situations.”

Australian airlines Qantas, Jetstar, and Virgin Australia have banned passengers from using or charging the Galaxy Note7 during flights over fire concerns.

The FAA has recorded 19 PED fires on US aircraft in the past five years. Qantas has recorded 17 in the same period. IATA said its members had reported 24 issues. Many aircraft now carry PED fire containment cases.

Samsung is to be both congratulated and commiserated. The first, due to their quick and decisive action to protect users from the .0011666% chance their Note7 could catch fire. The latter, that it is going to cost over US$1 billion to perform a thorough recall (and that does not include the loss in share price value or the cost of refurbishing the three million or so units). All owners may elect to receive a new unit or a refund.

US media have speculated that Samsung and telco carriers could block the unique IMEI identification of each phone from accessing the networks (effectively rendering it useless as a phone) if the recall does not get every last one of the phones. There have been no official statements regarding this option.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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