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Laptop Fire Exposes Flaw in Electronics Ban

JetBlue Flight 915 forced to make emergency landing after lithium-ion battery catches fire.

Experts are now pointing to a laptop battery fire aboard a flight as an example of what could go wrong in the worst case scenario under the current electronics ban. On Tuesday, May 30, JetBlue Flight 915 was forced to make an emergency landing in Grand Rapids, Michigan after a battery caught fire aboard the flight.

CBS News reports that the flight departed without issue from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), bound for San Francisco when the event took place. Witnesses say smoke started coming out of an overhead bin, forcing pilots to declare an emergency aboard the flight. The cause of the fire was determine to be a portable laptop charger packed in a backpack, which caught a lithium-ion battery on fire.

The flight successfully landed in Grand Rapids, where first responders controlled the situation. There were no injuries reported in the incident and witnesses say that everyone did their part to stay calm and professional during the incident.

Opponents of the electronics ban initiated earlier this year are using this episode to illustrate the risk lithium-based batteries can pose to commercial aircraft. Experts tell Business Insider that lithium-based batteries are best placed in the main cabin, instead of the cargo hold, in order to better respond to the potential of fires and combustion.

“Lithium-ion batteries are inherently volatile,” Michael Mo, chief executive of KULR Technology, said to Business Insider. “It’s statistics. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when, one of these things blow.”

The current in-cabin electronics ban is in effect for direct flights from 10 airports across eight countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa. An expansion of the policy for European flights bound to the United States was considered, but no action has been taken.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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