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Federal agencies ban Samsung Note 7 smartphones from airplanes

Federal agencies ban Samsung Note 7 smartphones from airplanes
A damaged Samsung Galaxy Note 7 after its battery exploded. (Joni Gantz Barwick / Assocated Press)

Federal regulators issued an emergency order Friday banning the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone from airplanes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said the phones can’t be carried on flights to, from or within the United States. Passengers can’t put them in checked baggage, and the phones can’t be shipped as air freight, the agencies said.

The order goes into effect Saturday at 9 a.m. PDT.

“We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident inflight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.”

Passengers who try to take their Galaxy Note 7 phones aboard aircraft may be forced to relinquish their devices and may face fines, the agencies said.

"Passengers who attempt to evade the ban by packing their phone in checked luggage are increasing the risk of a catastrophic incident," they said. "Anyone violating the ban may be subject to criminal prosecution in addition to fines."

A day after it halted global sales of the phones, Samsung Electronics Co. on Tuesday said it would stop manufacturing the Note 7, which was subject to a consumer safety recall. Some replacement phones issued to customers who had turned in their Note 7 phones after the recall also were found to be vulnerable to battery fires and explosions.

Several airlines had begun packing extra fire equipment on planes to deal with potential explosions by the phones and other devices powered by lithium-ion batteries.

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Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and Delta Air Lines added fire-resistant containment bags to their onboard fire equipment. The carriers said they have trained flight attendants to use the bags.

"The bags are specially designed for mid-flight lithium battery fires," said Halley Knigge, a spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines. She added that the bags can withstand heat of up to 3,200 degrees.

During an earnings call with analysts this week, Delta Chief Executive Edward Bastian said his airline has added similar containment bags.

"We're aware of the concerns around lithium batteries, and we're very mindful that safety is always our most important concern," he said.

Other airlines say their planes have long been equipped with fire extinguishers in the cabin and fire detection and suppression systems in their cargo areas.

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