Following US recommendation, Israel bans Galaxy Note 7 on flights
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Following US recommendation, Israel bans Galaxy Note 7 on flights

Civil Aviation Authority blocks passengers from boarding planes with phones that have caught fire numerous times

Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile devices on display at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, August 2, 2016. (AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)
Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile devices on display at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, August 2, 2016. (AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority has adopted recommendations by US authorities to ban the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones on airline flights in response to numerous incidents of the devices exploding or catching fire.

Director General Joel Feldschuh announced Sunday that passengers would be prohibited from boarding planes in Israel with the devices and that the authority began implementing the ban from Saturday at noon.

US officials on Friday banned all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones from airplanes, saying anyone attempting to travel with the recalled handsets may face fines and have the devices confiscated.

Israel joins several countries across Europe in its implementation of the ban following the US decision.

The South Korean electronics giant has recalled all Note 7 phones, including replacements, following reports of exploding batteries and fires, which have led to numerous injuries. Samsung has also stopped producing the flagship handset.

Samsung Electronics headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, file (AFP)
Samsung Electronics headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, file (AFP)

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said an emergency order banning the devices would take effect on Saturday.

Passengers would be barred from carrying the Note 7 on planes, in hand luggage or in checked baggage on domestic flights and international flights to or from the United States, the agency said.

“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” Foxx said in a statement.

“We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident in-flight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission this week formalized the recall affecting 1.9 million handsets in the United States, including one million announced in a September 15 recall and an additional 900,000 replacements.

The agency said Samsung had received reports of at least 96 of the US handsets overheating, with 13 reports of burn injuries and 47 incidents of property damage.

Samsung said in a statement that it is working with the US aviation department to make customers aware of the ban. The company also urged Note 7 customers to get a refund or exchange their phones by visiting their wireless carrier or retail store.

An airplane takes off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, on February 26, 2015. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
An airplane takes off from the Ben Gurion International Airport, on February 26, 2015. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The Note 7 isn’t 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. At least three US airlines are adding new fire-suppression equipment to fleets in case a cellphone or laptop battery overheats, catches on fire and can’t be extinguished.

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 overheating starts, it can lead to “thermal runaway” in which temperatures continue escalating to very high levels. Water can extinguish the flames, but doesn’t always halt the thermal runaway. Flames will often reappear after initially being quenched.

Lithium batteries are 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 UN 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.

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