News Worms
News Worms

Laptop ban may be broadened for Europe and Australia

The new policy would affect 390 flights daily between the USA and Europe, far more than the 350 flights weekly from the Middle East and North Africa subject to the current rule, which the US announced in March.

Discussions over keeping laptops and large electronics out of more US-bound flight cabins ended yesterday without an agreement to widen the ban.

In response to this news, the International Air Transport Association, a global airlines group that represents more than 250 airlines, asked for the representatives to find an alternative to a larger ban.

In a recent open letter the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) warned that expanding the ban to include flights from Europe could affect as many as 3,500 flights a week during the busy summer travel season, and 65 million passengers per year.

A current proposal from the Department of Homeland Security to mandate that large electronic devices be relegated to checked luggage is facing stiff resistance from airlines and business travelers.

Reports of a potential expansion of the ban have drawn broad concern from the travel industry.

Talks on a proposed USA ban on laptops and tablets in flights from Europe ended Wednesday with no ban - and a promise of more talks and better intelligence sharing.

Homeland Security officials say they are concerned a radicalized European citizen who may have traveled to Islamic State territory might try to plant a bomb on a US -bound plane. Airlines and aviation experts are concerned that storing a large number of devices containing lithium ion batteries inside a plane's cargo hold could cause a fire, which would be hard to extinguish because fire suppression systems work by depleting an area of oxygen.

The U.S. airlines still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers. DHS officials have previously said no decisions about the ban have been made and conversations with USA airlines remain ongoing.

In April, we first reported that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies believed that ISIS and other terrorist organizations had developed new ways to place explosives in laptops and other electronic devices to evade airport security screening methods.

The probable expansion of the ban, which was imposed in March on flights to the United States from 10 mostly Middle Eastern airports, has raised concerns in Europe that it would disrupt travel and have little security payoff.

Experts say a bomb in the cabin would be easier to make and require less explosive force than one in the hold. Baggage in cargo usually goes through a more sophisticated screening process than carry-on bags.

"Imagine the number of people who carry their laptops and tablets onto planes - not just adults, but also children", he told the AP.

A spokesman for Homeland Security said Wednesday no decision was expected this week on expanding the ban.

PLANS TO extend the cabin ban on electronic devices to flights to and from the United Kingdom have been shelved, after European Union and USA security chiefs agreed that it would not be in the interests of passengers, and would do little to increase security on transatlantic flights.

BALPA's Flight Safety Specialist Steve Landells said that pilots fully understand the threat that is being debated, but merely shifting PEDs into hold storage is not the answer.

The U.S. administration official said intelligence "continues to point to terrorist groups targeting commercial aviation and they are gradually pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks including smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items". The Federal Aviation Administration has recommended that U.S. airlines ban such batteries from cargo holds, as has the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) at the United Nations.


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