Very soon passengers might be banned from carrying large personal electronic devices (PED) such as laptops in their check-in luggage. Authorities are mulling over this issue in order to prevent battery fires that could lead to mishaps. International aviation agencies are already considering the matter at a week-long meet in Montreal. Once the findings are made public and any decision is taken, India is very likely to follow suit. Already items such as power banks and e-cigarettes are banned from check-in luggage in India.
More than the devices, the batteries in PEDs are appearing to be more of a concern. On top of that, laptops have larger batteries, which would be packed with flammable items in a suitcase.
Stringent as they might appear, these rules could help in preventing situations similar to the recent mid-air scare in the Delhi-Indore flight where a mobile phone exploded and caught fire. The crew was able to douse the fire in time.
A report in Times of India mentions that cabin crews are now trained to handle PED fires.
The International Civil Aviation Organization's dangerous goods panel meeting in Montreal is examining a paper that mentions that a fire starting from PED kept in cargo could lead to loss of the aircraft. Ten tests were also conducted by the FAA fire safety branch concluded that if a PED is packed in a suitcase with an aerosol can, then there is potential for an explosion.
According to reports, in one test, researchers packed a can of dry shampoo with a PED and applied a heater to the contents, which caught fire almost immediately and exploded in just 40 seconds.
The paper mentioned that carrying PEDs in passenger cabin seems like a safer option, as crews across airlines are trained to handle such situations.