US airplane laptop ban on hold after UK & Dutch pilots question safety
The United States' plans to ban laptops and tablets in the cabins of flights from Europe, was put on hold after the European Union decided against implementing it in an hours long meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. Other measures are still being considered, BBC reports.
The U.S. authorities banned electronic devices larger than a smartphone from the cabins of flights from eight countries in the Middle East to the United States. These countries are Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Americans fear that explosives could be hidden in the devices.
Pilots associations in the Netherlands and United Kingdom warned that this ban could cause more problems than it solves. Both pointed out the risk of keeping lithium batteries in the cargo area of planes. Dutch pilots union VNV also pointed out that banning laptops on flights would create a barrier for business travel between the EU and U.S., and that explosives can also be detonated in an airplane's hold.
"Given the risk of fire from these devices when they are damaged or they short circuit, an incident in the cabin would be spotted earlier and this would enable the crew to react quickly before any fire becomes uncontainable", Steve Landells, safety expert at the British Airline Pilots Association said to BBC. "If these devises are kept in the hold, the risk is that if a fire occurs the results can be catastrophic; indeed there have been two crashes where lithium batteries have been cited in the accident reports."