Since being instituted in March, there have been concerns about safety risks caused by travel ban on large electronics in airline cabins. After a JetBlue flight was forced to make an emergency landing, those concerns are now justified.
Lithium Fire Forces Landing
On Tuesday, May 30, JetBlue Flight 915 from JFK International Airport to San Francisco was forced to make an emergency landing at Gerald Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The landing was the result of a lithium fire that started in one passenger's carry-on. The device that caught fire was a portable laptop charger. The fire was put out before landing and no one on the flight was harmed.
JetBlue Flt#915 f/JFK-SFO landed w/o incident here shortly after 8pm after reports of a lithium fire onboard. Airport FD responded (cont)
— FlyGRFord (@FlyGRFord) May 30, 2017
"On May 30, JetBlue Flight 915 from New York's JFK to San Francisco diverted to Grand Rapids, Mich., following reports of smoke emitting from a carry-on bag holding an electronic device. The flight landed safely and the aircraft was inspected by maintenance crews before customers continued on to San Francisco," JetBlue said in a statement addressing the fire.
(cont) 158 people on board are all safe, no injuries and fire was out before the plane landed at GRR. — FlyGRFord (@FlyGRFord) May 30, 2017
After everything was cleared up, the flight took off and arrived safely in San Francisco.
Worth The Risk?
While this was quickly resolved, this is not the first incident involving lithium fires. According to the FAA, there have already been 12 reported lithium fires on flights in 2017 alone. Most devices use lithium-ion batteries as the standard recharge battery. That's not to say it's completely safe, with Samsung recalling the Galaxy Note 7 last fall after a battery exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight in 2016.
This most recent incident further calls into question the travel ban on large electronics. A big reason these incidents were resolved quickly was because of easy access to the fire when it's coming from a carry-on. The fire being in the cabin forces crew and passengers to deal with it quickly, preventing injury in most cases.
The travel ban forces passengers to pack laptops and tablets into their check-in luggage instead of keeping them in carry-on luggage. If a fire were to break out from a device stowed in the cargo, it could go unnoticed for much longer and quickly spread. This puts more international travelers at risk since the ban targets inbound flights to the United States and the UK from several countries in the Middle East.
This risk could get even higher if the travel ban does get extended to inbound flights to the United States from Europe.
Kevin Billings Tech Times editor Kevin Billings is a born geek at heart. Whether it's video games, movies, tv, comics, or tech, you will likely find Kevin there. And he feels gratified in his passions now that geek culture has come to dominate mainstream pop culture.