air safety

Apr 11, 2017

US airline regulator hid Trump battery edict safety risks from the public

Document suggests the FAA took more care to cover up Trump's bad battery policy than expose heightened passenger endangerment

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

File photo Lithium-ion fire UPS cargo plane

America’s Federal Aviation Administration hid the bad safety implications of the Trump ban on passenger carried computers and tablets from the public when it was imposed on selected Middle East airlines in March.

The revelation, in Air Transport World (ATW) underlines the needless risks to passenger safety that arise from the politically motivated ban, which has to a lesser extent, also been imposed by UK authorities. (ATW requires a free subscription for this story and much of its extensive industry coverage.)

While the bans by US and UK authorities don’t directly affect any scheduled flights from Australia and New Zealand to American cities or London, they raise the risk level for those making a range of indirect connections to some of those destinations on Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

Not to mince words, the purpose of the bans appears to be to screw the major ME carriers at the behest of envious US carriers that can’t in large part be bothered with operating flights to Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The fundamental issue is the banishing (on selected flights) of personal devices powered by spontaneous combustion prone lithium-ion batteries to under-floor checked luggage.

This contradicts the safe battery regulations of the word’s various airline regulators, including Australia’s CASA, which insist on their being carried into the cabin where any outbreak of fire in them can be directly dealt with by trained cabin crew.

In an earlier post in her ATW Editor’s blog, Karen Walker noted that It’s as if the US and UK governments, which could take away these airlines’ operating certificates if they don’t comply, is forcing passengers to choose which way they’d prefer to die on their flight, by bomb or by fire?

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18 thoughts on “US airline regulator hid Trump battery edict safety risks from the public

  1. comet

    Trump has introduced a deliberate safety risk to scare potential passengers away from Middle Eastern airlines.

    It’s like saying: “Hey, you’d better fly with United, American or Delta, as you’ll be safer because we carry lithium batteries in the cabin. But whatever you do, don’t fly Emirates or you’ll be subjected to the danger of smouldering lithium in the inaccessible cargo hold.”

    1. ghostwhowalksnz

      No US carriers fly to ME gulf airports affected by ban. So cant be a move to shift the passengers

      1. comet

        The ME3 compete directly with US carriers.

        For most passengers, the Middle East isn’t their final destination. They fly onward to somewhere else.

  2. Rais

    Several years ago my son, on his second visit to the US, was questioned aggressively by LA Immigration for several hours and made to miss his domestic connection. The rest of our family decided that visiting the US was just going to be too stressful and we wouldn’t go there. More and more travellers seem to be making that decision. If I want to see the Rockies or the Niagara Falls I’ll go to Canada. As for the UK I’d go to Dublin (because I have a few drops of Irish blood) or Amsterdam and change carriers there. Or just give the place a miss, the rest of Europe is amazing for tourism.

    1. comet

      Both the Rockies and Niagara Falls look better from the Canadian side, anyway!

    2. ghostwhowalksnz

      I think its cheaper to fly to Europe by avoiding US anyway. Was something to do with US carriers generous flight miles programs- it was built into the airfares. Not sure it applies anymore ?
      Air NZ carries on to London via LAX, but they take advantage of 5th freedom rights to uplift passengers in Los Angeles. Dont think Qantas has done this route for a very very long time.

    3. Dan Dair

      With the greatest respect, the US is very paranoid, with a lot to be paranoid about.
      Those at the bottom-end of the food-chain, ie the on-the-ground border security staff, have the least amount of information to go on & are therefor the most likely to resort to racial stereotyping as a means of identifying potential threats.
      I don’t condone this practise (if it exists) but at the same time appreciate that these people have to start somewhere. Proper training & intelligence access would undoubtedly help them do their jobs more efficiently & effectively.

      Additionally, as the attacks on the public have proved over the last couple of years, Britain isn’t the only place in Europe to have a problem with terrorism, imported or home-grown.? It might well be that the next time you visit Europe, other nations have become as difficult to enter as the UK was.?
      (I’m guessing that) You may be one of the many the law-abiding victims of the actions of others who have non-white skin colour.?
      The sooner we can all learn to be be more tolerant of other people’s skin colour, faith & beliefs, sexual orientation, etc, etc, etc, the better for all of us.

      (I’m finally getting around to reading ‘Long walk to freedom’.
      The stuff that went on to create apartheid is so scary & the fact that the Christian church in SA fully endorsed apartheid as the official word of God is even scarier.???)

      1. Zipper

        And yet Dan Dair it’s the Muslim countries who are by far the least tolerant, all the problems in the world today has Islam behind it, and you have the nerve to have a pop at Christianity??

        1. comet

          Oh dear, he we go 🙁

          1. Dan Dair

            You were so right……..

        2. Dan Dair

          Have you got any idea at all of the misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-black, anti-Hispanic and definitively anti-any other faith, of the middle-American white christian so-called fundamentalists.?
          The kind of people who drive cars everyday & yet believe that gasoline was put on this Earth by God, when he created the world five thousand years ago.?

          I do not defend the actions of any terror group, nor do I attempt to justify hatred of others by any group.
          I felt I’d sufficiently implied in my reply to Rais, that it is the few who tarnish the faith & actions of the many.

          Finally, I wasn’t having a go at Christianity in general.
          I was relaying the fact that the Dutch orthodox church, in South Africa, fully supported the laws which created apartheid.
          Laws which forcibly removed black people off their ancestral lands, which stopped anyone other than whites voting & which designated which areas/regions non-whites could live in & prevented travel around the country for non-whites without a travel pass. These laws also stopped non-whites from getting an equal standard of education to whites & prevented any kind of protest or even complaint against that system of laws.

          The point I was making was about the apartheid laws.
          The ‘pop’ at anyone other than the lawmakers was about an organised, nationwide, mainstream church, accepting these laws as right & proper & preaching to it’s white congregation that apartheid was right & was the proper order of things.

          That is definitely NOT a ‘pop’ at Christianity in general.
          However, it is a ‘pop’ at that particular extremely misguided & out-of-touch, church body.

  3. Zipper

    Your incredible Dan you really are lol, tell me when was the last time America sentenced someone to death just for being gay? or stoning a women to death for reporting a rape? or not letting women drive cars or being out alone in public without the husband? or allowing men to marry 12yr old girls? or cutting peoples heads off because they follow another faith? the list goes on and on, and yet you want to call America intolerant?? your argument is weak and pathetic, when was the last time in “middle America” did some coward drive a truck into a crowd of innocent people or wear a suicide vest in the name of Christianity? These horrors are almost daily now but lets call out American Christians hey? Unbelievable..

    1. Zarathrusta

      these people do not bother with the law. These Americans use vigilantism to bash gays to a pulp and wrap them around barbed wire fences effectively crucifying them, or they shoot people at a gay night club in Orlando killing 50 in the worse mass shooting in modern US history. These perpetrators are intolerant and Christian Terrorists. Just as wrong as the other ISIS terrorism we are seeing but it’s explained away as lone actors. Nevertheless there is an ideology behind this religiously motivated violence.

      They use the law to try to segregate and intimidate gays and guns and violence when they can’t manipulate the law in their favour. All the while having extramarital affairs, sometimes with their cousins.

      Any yes, lets call out the gutless violent hypocrites no matter who they may be.

    2. caf

      Ahh whatboutism, the new currency of internet argument.

  4. Ben Sandilands

    While I and many others might understand and respect the depth of feeling you have in relation to religious and cultural issues, I really don’t want to see Plane Talking become a forum for discussing them when the focus is air transport. We could quickly reach a situation where I would have to remove or edit observations that would offend too many other readers who might not link such issues to the actual performance of United for example in one story, or the long running pressure on US administration by some of its carriers to curb the success of ME carriers. There are many alternative forums in which such arguments can be pursued independently of the linkages to airline affairs which are necessarily part of discussions on this forum.
    Many thanks

    1. Dan Dair

      OK Ben,
      No offence was intended by me to anyone.

  5. James Nixon

    How come experienced Aviation journos get this but the widespread media doesn’t? We need you Ben Sandilands. Keep chipping away … if only we can point to you and say “See? He told you so”.

  6. Zipper

    Totally understand Ben, it was just Dan bringing up something about Christians which had nothing to do with the article that started this off, and just to correct Zarathrusta on a point he made, the Orlando nightclub shooting was an ISIS inspired Muslim that committed that massacre, not a Christian.

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