Personal electronic devices (PEDs) containing lithium batteries that are carried by passengers “preferably” should be carried in the passenger cabin, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said in a safety information bulletin to airlines and aircraft operators issued Wednesday. PEDs containing lithium batteries are dangerous goods and carrying them in the cabin “would enable the crew to react expeditiously in case an incident involving such PED occurs,” EASA said.
The bulletin was released in the wake of new U.S. and U.K. restrictions that require all PEDs larger than a cell phone or smart phone to be carried in checked baggage on inbound flights from select airports and countries primarily located in the Middle East and North Africa.
“When the carriage of PEDs in the cabin is prohibited, this will lead to a significant increase of the number of PEDs carried in the cargo compartment, in checked baggage,” according to the EASA bulletin. “This should be taken into account as part of the operator’s safety risk assessment process, and appropriate precautions should be applied to mitigate the associated risk, such as fire in the cargo hold.”
In issuing the bulletin, EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said, “Spontaneous ignition or thermal runaway of lithium batteries present safety risks which need to be taken into account. We must take all precautions to make sure that mitigating one risk does not lead to another risk.”
EASA recommended in the bulletin that operators inform passengers that:
- PEDs placed in checked baggage must be completely switched off and protected from accidental activation;
- Any applications, alarms or pre-set configurations that may activate the device have to be disabled or deactivated;
- PEDs placed in checked baggage have to be protected from damage by packaging; and,
- If PEDs must be placed in a cargo hold, they should not be placed in the same location and should be stored away from other dangerous goods.