Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Recalled Apple laptops banned from flights by US regulators

Apple starts recall after finding batteries in some MacBook Pros could overheat and catch fire

Apple has issued a recall on certain earlier units of its MacBook Pro after faults were found in some batteries. Reuters
Apple has issued a recall on certain earlier units of its MacBook Pro after faults were found in some batteries. Reuters

US airline safety regulators have banned some MacBook Pro laptops on flights after Apple said some units had batteries that could overheat and pose a fire risk.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was “aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops” and that it had alerted major US airlines about the recall.

It reminded airlines to follow 2016 safety instructions for goods with recalled batteries, which means the affected laptops should not be taken on flights as cargo or in carry-on baggage.

The EU Aviation Safety Agency issued a warning about the same MacBook Pro models this month, telling airlines in the region to follow 2017 rules that require devices with recalled lithium-ion batteries to be switched off and not used during flights.

The Apple laptops in question are some of the 15-inch MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017.

Apple issued the recall in June, saying it had “determined that, in a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units, the battery may overheat and pose a fire safety risk".

This week, four airlines with cargo operations managed by Total Cargo Expertise – TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy and Air Transat – banned the laptops from being brought on to the carriers’ planes as cargo.

“Please note that the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptop, sold between mid-2015 to February 2017, is prohibited on board any of our mandate carriers,” a TCE operations co-ordinator wrote.

A spokesman for TUI Group Airlines said airport staff and flight attendants would start making announcements about the devices at the gate and before takeoff.

Laptops that have had batteries replaced will not be affected, the spokesman said.

The company posted a notice on its website banning the recalled computers in cargo and passenger areas of its planes.

"Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority and we have voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge," Apple said in June.

Once new batteries are installed in the laptops, customers are free to fly with them.

A Canadian notice in June said that about 432,000 MacBook Pros sold in the US were included in the recall.

About 26,000 units sold in Canada were also affected, while the number sold in Europe has not been disclosed.

In a tweet following an incident involving a MacBook, the FAA said “recalled batteries do not fly".

In 2016, Samsung’s Note 7 was banned from US flights after incidents in which the handset’s battery exploded.

Recently recalled laptops, such as those from HP, may also be banned under the FAA’s rules.

While there have been repeated incidents of phones, laptops and other devices overheating and catching fire in passenger cabins of planes, it has never caused a fire to spread.

The flames can be extinguished with water and flight attendants are trained to address it.

There have been at least three accidents, two of them fatal, on cargo airlines since 2006 in which lithium batteries were suspected of helping fires to spread.

Stricter rules on shipping them have since been introduced.

US aviation regulations ban carrying recalled batteries on flights unless they are stored in special packaging that inhibits fires, FAA guidelines on hazardous materials state.

Updated: August 15, 2019 12:22 AM

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