President Donald Trump may think he's making us safer by considering an expansion of his laptop policy, but if a recent incident involving a JetBlue flight is to be taken seriously, then he must think twice before forcing passengers to check their electronic devices.
In March, the Trump administration banned passengers from carrying their laptops into the cabin on nonstop United States-bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is looking into whether the U.S. will expand the ban to include flights coming from Europe, despite the potential danger posed by laptop batteries.
This week, JetBlue Flight 915 was forced to make a stop in Michigan while traveling from New York to San Francisco after the lithium-ion battery in a laptop caught fire. The laptop had been put away in a bag stored in the carry-on compartment, and the fire was extinguished by the time the plane landed safely at Grand Rapids' Gerald Ford International Airport.
But if the laptop had been stored along with the luggage, the crew may have not known about the smoke until too late. In that scenario, a tragedy involving the flight carrying 158 passengers and crew members could have taken place.
JetBlue Flt#915 f/JFK-SFO landed w/o incident here shortly after 8pm after reports of a lithium fire onboard. Airport FD responded (cont)— FlyGRFord (@FlyGRFord) May 31, 2017
(cont) 158 people on board are all safe, no injuries and fire was out before the plane landed at GRR.— FlyGRFord (@FlyGRFord) May 31, 2017
According to an earlier interview with Michael Mo, CEO and co-founder of KULR Technology, lithium-ion batteries are volatile and they blow up.
“It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when one of these things blow,” he told Business Insider.
Putting these types of batteries in the cargo hold can be dangerous because if a fire starts, the crew won't know what's happening.
“[I]t's better to have humans nearby to react and put out the fire,” he said.
If the Trump administration has any decency, they will put this idea of a laptop ban on hold so that they can study the potential consequences of a widespread ban on electronic devices. Unless they are willing to live with the ramifications of potential plane fires and explosions in the future, keeping passengers from bringing their notebooks on board would do nothing but harm the economy while endangering countless passengers.
Is that what Trump calls putting America first?