March 23, 2017

Feds Temporarily Ban Electronics On Certain Flights To US

21 March 2017, 02:46 | Darnell Patrick

Arnd Wiegmann Reuters

Electronic devices banned on US flights from certain countries – reports

According to an announcement the airline posted on Twitter, citing instructions from concerned US departments, many popular electronic devices travelers carry onboard planes, especially on long flights, including DVD players, tablets, computers, games and cameras, will be barred from being transported in carry-on luggage and instead must be put in checked baggage on those flights.

Numerous questions behind the electronics ban were not answered by officials.

Airlines flying directly from eight countries in the Middle East and Africa to the US must prevent passengers from carrying nearly all electronic devices in the cabin, according to new security restrictions from the Trump administration. It said all such devices including laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and electronic games would need to be checked in under new United States government rules coming into force March 21.

The new rule is expected to be announced by Monday night by the Department of Homeland Security, the officials said, adding that it had been under consideration since the U.S. government learnt of a threat several weeks ago.

The affected airlines have up to 96 hours to implement these changes. The tweet from Royal Jordanian Airlines was taken down Monday afternoon - apparently the airline jumped the gun on the announcement - but the information is correct and apparently the result of a terrorism concern. More than a dozen airlines flying into the USA will be covered by the new directive.

The full list of countries has not been revealed, but appears to include Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

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A USA official said the ban on some electronics is believed to be related to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Flight and cabin crews are not covered by these new restrictions. The bomber was killed and a hole was blown in the side of the fuselage.

The Transportation Security Administration, which ensures that security meets USA standards at airports that send flights to the USA, and the Department of Homeland Security each said: "We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate".

In February 2016, a bomb hidden inside a laptop detonated aboard a Daallo Airlines flight out of Mogadishu, Somalia. In the wake of the 2016 attack on Istanbul Ataturk, the FAA temporarily banned all flights from that airport to the USA, for example, so it's not unprecedented for the US government to take this kind of action. If electronic devices couldn't be turned on, they weren't allowed in the cabin.

Aviation safety experts and regulatory agencies have long warned about that batteries shipped in bulk could cause a fire and spark a chain reaction that could bring down an aircraft.

Two Boeing 747 crashes - a UPS freighter in 2010 and an Asiana Cargo plane in 2011 - happened after fires broke out in the cargo holds.

A State Department official said embassy officials spent Monday notifying relevant countries and airlines. Those were traced to palettes of lithium ion batteries the planes were carrying.

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