Laptops in the hold could spark ?catastrophic fire?

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British pilots have expressed their severe concerns about a fire breaking out on board flights. This follows the emerging possibility of an electronic ban on flights to and from the UK.

More dangerous than electronics in the cabin

More dangerous than electronics in the cabin
peshkova/123RF

Pilots have voiced their fears of a fire breaking out on flights if electronics are confined to the plane's baggage hold. This is in light of the potential laptop ban on flights to and from the UK.

The US government is thought to be considering banning laptops and tablets carried in hand luggage on flights between the UK and US. It has already established restrictions on flights to and from 10 airports, mainly located in the Middle East and North Africa.

However, the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) has voiced its concerns of the ban's safety implications. Storing electronics in the hold could lead to a 'catastrophic fire' on board due to lithium batteries.

BALPA flight safety specialist Steve Landells said: "Given the risk of fire from these devices when they are damaged or they short circuit, an incident in the cabin would be spotted earlier and this would enable the crew to react quickly before any fire becomes uncontainable.

"If these devices are kept in the hold, the risk is that if a fire occurs the results can be catastrophic; indeed, there have been two crashes where lithium batteries have been cited in the accident reports."

Members of BALPA believe that storing PEDs in the hold could pose greater security risk than having them in the cabin. The possible move also contradicts the current safety advice, which advises that devices should be carried in the cabin in case of a fire.

"We don't doubt the security threats that have led to consideration of extending the ban on devices but we urge the authorities to carefully assess the additional fire risk from storing more PEDs in the hold to ensure we're not solving one problem by creating a worse one," said Landells.

Alistair Pritchard, lead partner at Deloitte spoke about the matter at the Advantage Conference in Provence this weekend. He said that a laptop ban would greatly affect both leisure and business travel.

According to Pritchard, being faced with the prospect of flying short-haul with no form of in-flight entertainment, families would opt either for a holiday in the UK or choose shorter routes.

This problem would cause further difficulty for business passengers planning to capitalise on their time travelling. Being obliged to check in your electronics as part of hold baggage removes any possibility of working at the airport or on the plane.

He said: "Some big corporates, like Deloitte, have a policy where you can't take your laptop in the hold for security reasons. It's a big issue for the sector.

"If I can't take laptop, my four-day business trip is rendered useless."

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Rosie Giorgi
Posted on 15/05/2017 Modified on 19/05/2017
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