U.S. Drops Plans for Laptop Ban on European Flights, For Now

By Paul Riegler on 30 May 2017
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Departures board at Berlin Tegel Airport

Departures board at Berlin Tegel Airport

After weeks of discussion between U.S. and European officials, a proposed plan to ban larger electronic devices, including laptops, from passenger cabins of aircraft flying to the United States from Europe seems to be, at a very minimum, on hold.

The ban, which would include iPads and other tablets as well as other personal electronic devices larger than a smartphone, was largely expected to be announced Tuesday in concert with a call between Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, and European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.

“No ban,” one European Commission official told reporters. “Both sides have agreed to intensify technical talks and try to find a common solution.”

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that the meeting’s participants agreed “on the need to raise the bar for aviation security globally, including through a range of potential seen and unseen enhancements.”

The DHS left the door open, however, to a future ban.

“Secretary Kelly affirmed he will implement any and all measures necessary to secure commercial aircraft flying to the United States – including prohibiting large electronic devices from the passenger cabin – if the intelligence and threat level warrant it,” the agency said in a statement, adding that, “while a much-discussed expansion of the ban on large electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the United States was not announced today, the Secretary made it clear that the an expansion is still on the table.”

The ban would allow larger electronic devices to be stowed in the cargo hold, which many experts have pointed out would be dangerous because lithium batteries can and have ignited in flight and, were this to occur in the hold, the fire could not be extinguished by cabin crew.

In March of this year, the United States and the United Kingdom separately banned larger personal electronic devices in the cabin on flights from a number of Muslim-majority nations. The ban came about because of intelligence reports that cited the possibility of terrorists’ ability to hide bombs in such devices.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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