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Aviation regulator flies in face of ban, says electronics should be stowed in cabin. Duh

If lithium batteries go boom in the hold, you're all screwed

Europe's aviation regulator has warned that electronic devices should not be stowed in an aircraft's cargo hold, advice that contradicts the recent ban on laptops and tablets in cabin baggage on certain flights by UK authorities.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a reminder to airlines that devices containing lithium batteries can pose a fire hazard and should be considered dangerous goods.

It said they "should preferably be carried in the passenger cabin. This would enable the crew to react quickly in case an incident involving such [portable electronic devices] occurs."

Last month the UK government banned laptops and tablets from cabin baggage on direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

When electronic devices are not allowed in the cabin, there's a significant increase in the number of them in the hold, the regulator said.

Certain precautions should therefore be observed to mitigate the risk of accidental fire in the cargo hold. In particular, devices placed in checked baggage must be completely switched off and well protected from accidental activation.

Patrick Ky, EASA's executive director, said: "Passenger and crew safety is our highest priority. 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."

At the end of last year, Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 was banned from a number of flights due to its exploding batteries.

For an explainer on what causes mobile batteries to explode, read here. ®

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