Some U.S. and UK airlines have recently instated a ban on electronic devices or gadgets larger than a mobile phone for some flights from Africa and the Middle East. The reason why such bans were upheld, however, is of nebulous provenance.
Airline Ban On Electronic Devices
Until now, at least. The bans are reportedly set in place because of, partly, the discovery of a terror plot involving the use of a bomb disguised as a fake iPad to blow up a plane.
In the United States, reports of the ban circulated beginning Monday, March 20, the same day when the edict was distributed in a confidential email by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. By contrast, the ban came into effect on Saturday, March 25 in the UK, in which tablets, laptops, game consoles were barred from entering airliners.
Blame A Bomb Disguised As An iPad For The Airline Electronics Ban
As The Guardian reports, citing a security source, both bans were not a direct result of a single specific incident, but a combination of several factors. One of which, as mentioned previously, was the discovery of a plot to smuggle explosives masked as an iPad inside a plane to bring the whole aircraft down, with the device reportedly appearing as legitimate as the real thing. Key metrics of the plot, including the date, countries involved, and the perpetrators behind such intent, remain undisclosed.
Security concerns over explosives masked and disguised as harmless, common electronics have some merit, as ArsTechnica notes. Last year, for instance, an explosive masquerading as a laptop punctured a hole in the passenger area on a flight to Somalia.
As part of the electronics ban, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security employed the "aviation security enhancements," requiring all devices larger than a cellphone be put in checked baggage for flights coming to the U.S. from 10 select airports across the world.
What's In Store For The Airline Electronics Ban
How long the ban will remain is still uncertain, and whether the United States or the UK will cover additional inbound flights from different countries is also unclear. Similarly, it's also to be determined whether more countries will uphold the same ban. So far, it appears only the United States and the UK are putting such a ban into effect, although The Guardian reports France is flirting with the idea as well. Both the Dutch and Australian governments stated that they are looking into the situation, but have stated that there are no plans of a total ban at present.
This isn't the first time for electronics to be banned on airlines. Just last year, the Federal Aviation Administration banned any person from bringing a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on airlines, lest it explodes onboard. The smartphone, now fully discontinued, was mired by reports of randomly exploding units, with incidents numerous enough for the FAA to invoke a ban on it.
So now you know. There's an airline ban because of a previously undisclosed plot to carry explosives inside a plane dressed as a legitimate-looking iPad. Thoughts? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!