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Air travellers on Samsung phone honour system after fires

FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, file photo, a woman walks by an advertisement of the Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 7 smartphone at the company's showroom in Seoul, South Korea. The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday night, Sept. 8, 2016, that because of recent fire reports involving the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, passengers shouldn’t use or charge one or stow one in checked baggage. The three biggest U.S. airlines: American, Delta and United, said Friday that they were studying the FAA warning but it was unclear how they would make sure that passengers keep the Samsung devices powered off.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File
September 10, 2016 - 6:00 AM

If you travel with a Samsung Note 7, you're likely on the honour system when deciding whether to use or charge the device during a flight.

The Canadian and U.S. governments both issued advisories on Friday urging passengers not to put the smartphone in checked baggage and not to use or charge the device in the cabin.

The warnings were issued in the wake of Samsung's Sept. 2 global recall over concerns about batteries exploding or catching fire.

"Lithium-ion batteries that typically power these devices have the potential to overheat or short-circuit if they are defective, mishandled, or not packed properly," said an advisory posted on Transport Canada's website.

"In turn, this can lead to a fire and cause a chain reaction with other lithium-ion batteries nearby. This type of fire could easily overwhelm the fire suppression system of an aircraft."

Transport Canada is recommending the phones be carried in the cabin where an incident can be "immediately mitigated," but also advises against using phones in the cabin.

Transport Canada's American counterpart, the Federal Aviation Administration, issued a similar warning Friday.

It is very unusual for the FAA to warn passengers about a specific branded product.

The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an advisory Friday urging owners of the phone to turn them off and leave them off. The agency said it was working with Samsung to launch an official recall as soon as possible.

The three biggest U.S. airlines — American, Delta and United — said Friday that they were studying the FAA warning, but it was unclear how they would make sure that passengers keep the Samsung devices powered off.

A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration declined to say whether screeners would look for the devices either in carry-on or checked bags.

"Unless it is a strictly prohibited item, there's not much that the TSA can do," said Todd Curtis, director of an air-safety foundation. He said the airlines could act on their own to bar the phones, as they did last year with hoverboards.

Safety experts have been concerned for several years about the fire risk when lithium-ion batteries are used or even carried on flights.

In February, a UN aviation panel recommended that nations adopt a temporary ban on cargo shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries on passenger airlines, although the policy wouldn't apply to batteries inside devices like phones, laptops or tablets.

Shares of Samsung Electronics Co. tumbled 4 per cent Friday, the worst decline for the company's stock since January.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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