Laptops in checked bags pose fire, explosion risk, US government says

Cheryl Sanders
October 23, 2017

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will consider calls for a ban submitted by the US Federal Aviation Administration when its unsafe goods panel meets later this month.

The U.S. government is urging the world airline community to ban large, personal electronic devices like laptops from checked luggage because of the potential for a catastrophic fire.

According to the proposal, an overheating laptop battery could cause a significant fire in a cargo hold that fire fighting equipment aboard the plane would not be able to extinguish which could "lead to the loss of the aircraft".


The U.N. agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization, sets global aviation safety standards, although member countries must still ratify them.

The UN will discuss the policy during a meeting in Montreal next week.

In one a case of shampoo was strapped to a laptop, The battery swiftly caught fire and the aerosol exploded within 40 seconds.

The test showed that because of the rapid progression of the fire, Halon gas fire suppressant systems used in airline cargo compartments would be unable to put out the fire before there was an explosion, the FAA said. Aircraft cargo sections are equipped with a system created to put out any fires that start. The FAA tested lithium-ion battery fires near these various substances and found that they can fuel the flame to form large fires.

The Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy earlier this year that prohibited passengers from carrying large electronics aboard flights coming into the USA from certain countries in the Middle East, which led to people checking their computers instead, prompting the latest concerns.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not commented on the proposal.

Those rules banning laptops from cabins have been removed for most of those airports due to new screening procedures.

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