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| Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C

Samsung announced a voluntary recall of 2.5 million smartphones worldwide because of a battery problem which has caused Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to catch on fire. Samsung has asked all users to power down their phones and stop charging them. In the past days alone, the Galaxy Note 7 has been responsible for setting on fire a house and a car and exploded in the hands of someone while he was using it. While this hazard can effect people at home, at work or on the road, the hazard is particularly troubling for individuals who are flying. The Federal Aviation Administration has a clear message for owners of Samsung’s recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphone: Your device is a safety hazard. Don’t use it on airplanes.

The FAA issued a strong advisory that owners of the Galaxy Note 7 should not turn on or charge their Note 7s on board an aircraft and not stow the phones in checked baggage. The FAA has previously warned that fires caused by the type of batteries found in cellphones can be hard to extinguish aboard planes. This follows a major U.S. airline ban last year of hoverboards for similar problems associated with the batteries catching on fire or exploding.

The enforcement of the FAA advisory note on Galaxy Note 7s can be hard to implement for major airlines. Almost every airline passenger these days uses a cellphone in some capacity while flying. How an airline can determine if a passenger is using the recalled Galaxy Note 7 or a different model smartphone is a cause for concern. Some international airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Virgin Australia, have already banned use of the Note 7. Those airlines say cabin crews are making announcements on board about the ban.

Protocol in the U.S. isn’t entirely clear. United  and Virgin America said they would make announcements to passengers, while Delta said in a statement that it would comply with any FAA requirements or directives. Southwest said it was promoting the guidelines online, but said in-flight announcements were still being discussed. American Airlines said it was “in touch with the FAA” regarding the issue, but a spokesman declined to say Friday whether crews would make announcements.

As technology evolves, so do the hazards associated with the new products and materials used in the technology.  For the safety of everyone traveling on a plane, it is best to heed the FAA advisory and not travel with a Galaxy Note 7.


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