Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have all announced that the onboard charging or recharging of the latest Samsung smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, is now banned in light of recent problems discovered with the model. Within just a few weeks of its release, there have been 35 instances reported where the phone has suffered from “a battery cell issue”. There has been a spate of images posted on the internet of images of the Galaxy Note7 with comments that they had either overheated or exploded.
The airlines’ ban on the charging or recharging is a safety precaution put in place through the fear of the phone being a fire risk. Though new to the market, Samsung have already sold over 2.5 million units. In a statement issued by the manufacturer, Samsung, “To date (as of September 1) there have been 35 cases that have been reported globally and we are currently conducting a thorough inspection with our suppliers to identify possible affected batteries in the market. However, because our customers’ safety is an absolute priority at Samsung, we have stopped sales of the Galaxy Note7.
There have been a number of incidents involving fires on board planes carrying lithium batteries as cargo, including a fire on board a UPS Airlines Boeing 747-400F which crashed on September 3, 2010, killing both pilots. The final crash investigation report issued by the GCAA indicated the fire was as a result of autoignition of the contents of a cargo pallet which contained “a significant number” of lithium-type batteries.
Effective April 1, 2016, the carrying of lithium batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft has been prohibited, based on the recommendation of the ICAO Air Navigation Commission, as detailed in IATA guidance for lithium batteries.