How Trump’s electronics ban on planes could be deadly

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The US is expected to broaden its ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to include planes from the European Union, a move that would create logistic chaos on the world’s busiest corridor of air travel. Picture: AP/Bob Edme

DONALD Trump’s proposed ban on large electronic devices in plane cabins could cause a literal firestorm.

That’s according to safety experts, who say piling gadgets in aeroplane cargo holds — rather than letting passengers carry them — could lead to deadly infernos.

“[Personal electronic devices] containing lithium batteries are considered as dangerous goods. When carried by passengers, they should preferably be carried in the passenger cabin,” a statement by the European Aviation Safety Agency read, according to the New York Post.

Mr Trump banned carrying electronics larger than mobile phones onto US-bound flights originating from 10 African and Middle East countries, because terrorists may be able to smuggle bombs inside them.

Experts warn stowing large numbers of devices containing lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold could be risky. Picture: AFP/Anwar Amro

The United Kingdom imposed a similar ban on large electronic devices on flights from its own list of airports across the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.

Such devices must be checked and stored in cargo holds along with luggage.

Mr Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is now mulling a similar ban for flights coming from Europe.

Lithium ion batteries can explode if they overheat or short-circuit and they have a dubious record on planes, even when they are not stockpiled in cargo holds.

The US Federal Aviation Administration banned Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 from flights last year after flurry of consumers reported injuries from exploding phones.

Fires caused by the batteries are particularly tough to put out using fire extinguishers on board aeroplanes, CNN Money reported.

Two 747 crashes have been attributed to fires caused by Lithium ion batteries — a UPS freighter in 2010 and an Asiana cargo plane a year later were both set off by palettes of batteries igniting.

It comes as European governments held urgent talks with the US Department of Homeland Security to discuss the proposal to extend the laptop ban to Europe.

The move would affect trans-Atlantic routes that carry as many as 65 million people a year on over 400 daily flights, many of them business travellers who rely on their electronics to work during the flight, the Associated Press reported.

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