CASA agrees with airline notebook restrictions

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said it's happy with the restrictions placed on the use of Dell and Apple notebooks by airlines.
Written by Munir Kotadia, Contributor

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said it is happy with the restrictions placed on the use of Dell and Apple notebooks by airlines.

Dell, Apple and Panasonic have, between them, recalled 5,906,000 notebook batteries in the past few weeks, which has resulted in airlines imposing restrictions on the use of certain notebooks.

A spokesperson for CASA on Wednesday told ZDNet Australia that because airlines have already taken steps to try and reduce the risk from exploding batteries, it does not see any need to take any further action -- for now.

"We looked at it and said both airlines [Qantas and Virgin Blue] have assessed the risk appropriately so there is no reason to take action at this time. We have been talking to counterpart aviation safety regulators in North America and Europe to make sure what we are doing is in line with what is going on elsewhere and that is the case," the spokesperson said.

Last week, Qantas said that passengers with Dell laptops affected by the recall were instructed to not charge their laptops on board -- but they were still allowed to either plug the laptop into the airplane's main power after removing the battery or not plug it in and simply use battery power on its own.

Virgin Blue, which does not offer power points to passengers on its aircraft, has not imposed any restrictions on the use of laptops.

However, Korean Air on Wednesday banned the use of all Dell and some Apple notebooks -- but only if they are using battery power. If the battery is removed, notebooks can be run from the aircraft's power supply.

Korean Air's restrictions mirror those imposed by Virgin Atlantic, which on its Web site said: -In cabins where the seats are fitted with In Seat Power Supplies, leads/adaptors will be offered. Where no ISPS is provided or no laptop leads/adaptors are available, the use of Apple and Dell laptops is prohibited".

The CASA spokesperson said that despite airlines imposing differing -- and sometimes contradictory -- restrictions, it does not intend to take action at this time: "We will be keeping a watching brief on it but we are satisfied that the responses so far by our two airlines are appropriate".


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