US bans Sam­sung Gal­axy Note 7 phones on planes

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

WASH­ING­TON: Pas­sen­gers and flight crews will be banned from bring­ing Sam­sung Gal­axy Note 7 smart­phones on air­line flights un­der an emer­gency order is­sued Fri­day by the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion in re­sponse to re­ports of the phones catch­ing fire.

The order, which goes into ef­fect on Satur­day at noon EDT, says the phones may not be car­ried on board or packed in checked bags on flights to and from the United States or within the coun­try. The phones also can’t be shipped as air cargo.

The depart­ment ini­tially said that pas­sen­gers at­tempt­ing to board planes with the phones might face fines, but later clar­i­fied that such pas­sen­gers will sim­ply not be al­lowed on planes. Pas­sen­gers who try to evade the ban by pack­ing the phone in their checked lug­gage may be sub­ject to crim­i­nal prose­cu­tion in ad­di­tion to fines. Pack­ing the phones in checked lug­gage in­creases the risk of a “catas­trophic in­ci­dent,” the depart­ment said.

Pas­sen­gers who are cur­rently trav­el­ing with Sam­sung Gal­axy Note7 phones should con­tact Sam­sung or their wire­less car­rier im­me­di­ately to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion about how to re­turn their phones and ar­range for a re­fund or a re­place­ment phone, the depart­ment said.

Sam­sung has re­called more than 2.5 mil­lion of the smart­phones, cit­ing a bat­tery man­u­fac­tur­ing er­ror. The South Korean com­pany dis­con­tin­ued the prod­uct ear­lier this week, less than two months af­ter its Au­gust re­lease. The Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion says there have been nearly 100 re­ports of bat­ter­ies in Note 7 phones over­heat­ing in the US one fire erupted on a South­west Air­lines flight ear­lier this month. In an­other case, a fam­ily in St. Peters­burg, Florida, re­ported a Gal­axy Note 7 phone left charg­ing in their Jeep caught fire, de­stroy­ing the ve­hi­cle.

Warning

The Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion had pre­vi­ously warned pas­sen­gers not to pack the phones in their checked bags and to power them off and not charge them while on board planes. “We rec­og­nize that ban­ning these phones from air­lines will in­con­ve­nience some pas­sen­gers, but the safety of all those aboard an air­craft must take pri­or­ity,” said Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary An­thony Foxx. “We are tak­ing this ad­di­tional step be­cause even one fire in­ci­dent in­flight poses a high risk of se­vere per­sonal in­jury and puts many lives at risk.”

Sam­sung said in a state­ment that it is work­ing with the depart­ment to make cus­tomers aware of the ban. The com­pany also urged Note 7 cus­tomers to get a re­fund or ex­change their phones by vis­it­ing their wire­less car­rier or re­tail store. Sam­sung has a web­site at http://www.sam­sung.com/us/note7re­call/ and a phone num­ber, 1-844-365-6197, for cus­tomers with ques­tions. The Note 7 isn’t the only gad­get to catch fire thanks to lithium-bat­tery prob­lems, which have af­flicted ev­ery­thing from lap­tops to Tesla cars to Boe­ing’s 787 jet­liner. At least three U.S. air­lines are adding new fire-sup­pres­sion equip­ment to fleets in case a cell­phone or lap­top bat­tery over­heats, catches on fire and can’t be ex­tin­guished.

Recharge­able lithium bat­ter­ies are more sus­cep­ti­ble to over­heat­ing than other types of bat­ter­ies if they are ex­posed to high tem­per­a­tures, are dam­aged or have man­u­fac­tur­ing flaws. Once over­heat­ing starts, it can lead to “ther­mal runaway” in which tem­per­a­tures con­tinue es­ca­lat­ing to very high lev­els. Wa­ter can ex­tin­guish the flames, but doesn’t al­ways halt the ther­mal runaway. Flames will of­ten reap­pear af­ter ini­tially be­ing quenched.

Lithium bat­ter­ies are ubiq­ui­tous in con­sumer elec­tronic de­vices. Man­u­fac­tur­ers like them be­cause they weigh less and pack con­sid­er­ably more en­ergy into the same space than other types of bat­ter­ies.

Ear­lier this year, the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, a UN agency that sets global avi­a­tion safety stan­dards, banned bulk ship­ments of recharge­able lithium-ion bat­ter­ies as cargo on pas­sen­ger planes un­til bet­ter pack­ag­ing can be de­vel­oped to pre­vent a fire from spread­ing and po­ten­tially de­stroy­ing the plane. —AP

SEOUL: Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Gal­axy Note 7 smart­phone is dis­played at a mo­bile phone shop in Seoul, South Korea. —AP

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