U.S. aviation safety officials took the extraordinary step late Thursday of warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge a new-model Samsung smartphone during flights following numerous reports of the devices catching fire.
The Federal Aviation Administration also warned passengers not to put the Galaxy Note 7 phones in their checked bags, citing ‘recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung’ about the devices.
It is extremely unusual for the FAA to warn passengers about a specific product.
Last week, Samsung ordered a global recall of the jumbo phones after its investigation of explosion reports found the rechargeable lithium batteries were at fault.
U.S. aviation safety officials took the extraordinary step late Thursday of warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones (pictured) during flights following numerous reports of the devices catching fire
In one case, a family in St. Petersburg, Florida, reported a Galaxy Note 7 phone left charging in their Jeep caught fire, destroying the vehicle.
Delta Air Lines Inc, the No.2 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, said it is still studying the issue.
‘Delta is in constant contact with the FAA and other bodies in its run of business as a global airline,’ spokesman Morgan Durrant said in a statement.
‘We will comply with any directive and are studying this matter. Safety and security is always Delta’s top priority.’
United Continental Holdings Inc and American Airlines Group Inc did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the FAA advisory.
Vaughn Jennings, a spokesman for Washington-based trade group Airlines for America, said the organization was ‘closely monitoring any developments as this issue evolves.’
A family in St. Petersburg, Florida, reported a Galaxy Note 7 phone left charging in their Jeep caught fire, destroying the vehicle (scenes from that incident pictured)
The family said the phone, which was plugged in here, was engulfed in flames which quickly consumed the rest of the vehicle
Samsung say they are investigating the incident, and providing assistance to the family
‘Each individual carrier makes determinations, in compliance with FAA safety rules and regulations, as to what is permitted to be carried on board and in the cargo hold,’ Jennings said in a statement.
The FAA statement does not order U.S. airlines to take action.
The International Air Transportation Association said airlines have conducted risk assessments and noted that other phones have been recalled for battery issues.
‘Although Samsung is the most recent company advising of faulty devices, others have issued similar recalls and warnings regarding lithium batteries in laptops over the last 12 months, so the industry is familiar with and equipped to manage such situations,’ the IATA said.
Australian airlines Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have banned passengers from using or charging the Galaxy Note 7 during flights over fire concerns.
Although customers will still be able to bring the phones on flights on the Australian carriers, the ban extends to the phones being plugged into flight entertainment systems where USB ports are available.
Samsung launched the latest version of the Note series in August.
The Note series is one of the most expensive lineups released by Samsung, and the devices usually inherit designs and features of the Galaxy S phones that debut in the spring.
Delta Air Lines Inc, the No.2 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, said it is still studying the issue. The FAA statement does not order U.S. airlines to take action (stock photo)
Samsung also added an iris scanner to the Note 7, which detects patterns in users’ eyes to unlock the phone.
Before the issue of battery explosions emerged, supplies were not keeping up with higher-than-expected demand for the smartphone.
The Note 7 is not 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.
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 the overheating starts, it can lead to ‘thermal runaway’ in which temperatures continue escalating to very high levels.
Water can put out the flames, but does not always halt the thermal runaway.
Samsung launched the latest version of the Note series in August. The Note series is one of the most expensive lineups released by Samsung
Flames will often reappear after initially being quenched.
Lithium batteries have become 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 U.N. 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.