FAA Warns of Fire Risk from E-Cigarettes in Checked Luggage

By Paul Riegler on 23 January 2015
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IMGP4627The Federal Aviation Administration is warning airlines about the fire risk from e-cigarettes, adding the popular cigarette substitute to a list of items that cannot be packed in checked luggage.

The agency, which already bans flammables and explosives, released a Safety Alert for Operators notifying U.S. airlines of the danger and asking airlines to ensure passengers don’t put their e-cigarettes in checked baggage.

The move follows a bulletin from the International Civil Aviation Organization, which recommended a ban on the devices.

E-cigarettes rely on lithium cells to heat liquid nicotine into a vapor.  Two recent incidents of fires have been reported, including one in the cargo hold of a plane at Logan Airport in Boston.  On January 4, 2015, a suitcase sitting in the baggage area at Los Angeles International Airport burst into flames after an e-cigarette caught fire after the heating element was accidentally activated.

The likelihood of fire increases in cases where a device has been modified by its owner, including when non-original batteries, heating elements, and vaporizing components are installed

“These incidents and several others occurring outside of air transportation have shown that e-cigarettes can overheat and cause fires when the heating element is accidentally activated or left on,” said the agency in the alert.

The FAA’s safety alert is voluntary, however airlines typically follow such guidance.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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