U.S. airline safety regulators have banned some MacBook Pro laptops on flights after Apple Inc. recently said some units have batteries that pose a fire hazard.
In a statement, the US Federal Aviation Administration said it was “aware of the recalled batteries that are used in certain Apple MacBook Pro laptops” and said it has alerted major US airlines of the recall .
The watchdog also reminded airlines to follow 2016 safety instructions for cargo with recalled batteries, which means affected Apple laptops should not be taken on flights as cargo or within hand luggage of passengers.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency issued a warning regarding these MacBook Pro models earlier this month, asking airlines in the region to follow 2017 rules that require devices with batteries lithium-ion recalled are turned off and not used during flights.
The Apple laptops in question are 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017. Apple issued the recall in June, saying it had “determined that in a limited number of 15-inch MacBook Pro units of older generation, the battery may overheat and present a fire hazard.
This week, four airlines whose cargo operations are handled by Total Cargo Expertise – TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy and Air Transat – put in place a ban, banning laptops from being carried on planes. carriers as freight, according to an internal opinion obtained by Bloomberg News.
“Please note that the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptop, sold between mid-2015 and February-2017 is prohibited on board one of our contracted carriers,” a TCE operations coordinator wrote to employees.
A spokesperson for TUI Group Airlines said airport staff and flight attendants will start making announcements about these MacBook Pros at the gate and before take off. Laptops that have replaced the batteries will not be impacted, the spokesperson said. The company also posted a notice on its website banning recalled computers on board, both in the cargo and passenger areas of its planes. It is not known what efforts, if any, will be deployed at US airports.
“Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority, and we have made a voluntary decision to replace affected batteries, free of charge,” Apple said in a June statement. Once the new batteries are installed in the laptops, customers are free to fly with the computers.
According to a June Canadian advisory, approximately 432,000 MacBook Pros sold in the United States were included in the recall. About 26,000 units sold in Canada were also affected, while the number sold in Europe was not disclosed.
In a July 10 tweet following an incident involving a MacBook, the FAA said “recalled #batteries don’t fly.”
The MacBook Pro isn’t the first consumer tech device to be banned from airlines. In 2016, Samsung Electronics Co.’s Note 7 was banned from flights in the United States due to a fire hazard after the handset battery exploded in several incidents. Laptops recently recalled as those of HP Inc. may also be prohibited by FAA rules.
Although there have been repeated incidents of phones, laptops and other devices overheating and catching fire in passenger compartments of planes, this has never caused a fire to spread. Flames can be extinguished with water and flight attendants are trained to deal with them. There have been at least three crashes, including two fatalities, on freight airlines since 2006, in which lithium batteries were suspected of contributing to the spread of the fires. Stricter rules on their shipping have since been introduced.
U.S. aviation regulations prohibit carrying the recalled batteries on flights unless they have been replaced or stored in special packaging that inhibits fire, in accordance with FAA hazardous materials guidelines.
Copyright 2021 Bloomberg.
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