Airports Council International (ACI) on Monday issued some pointed criticism about the recent U.S. and UK bans of large electronic devices (PEDs) in passenger cabins of airliners traveling from separate respective lists of Middle Eastern and North African countries, characterizing them as inconsistent and ineffective. Notably, the organization called for “urgent consideration” for alternative solutions, including additional explosive detection capability at boarding gates and/or “state of the art” technology for cabin baggage screening. “In this regard, the ACI Governing Board failed to understand why proposals made by Istanbul Ataturk Airport have not been considered,” ACI said in a written statement.
“Airports, along with industry partners and governments, put security as a top priority and understand the need to implement measures rapidly when a heightened threat level is identified,” it added. “However, information sharing and coordination on security measures among governments and with the industry is also crucial to ensure effective security. In particular, inconsistency in the application of security measures does not lead to security effectiveness and may result in simply moving the threat to other locations rather than addressing it. In the present case, it also leads to passenger confusion and results in commercial distortions not just for airlines but also for airports.”
ACI further called for governments to support research and development and to streamline certification processes for new advanced screening technology. It also called for “critical” state collaboration with industry and security equipment manufacturers to allow cost-effective implementation of screening systems and procedures suitable for use in both large and small airport environments.
The ACI statement comes five days after the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a Safety Information Bulletin highlighting experts’ preference that PEDs such as laptop computers remain in carry-on baggage and with the person carrying the device. The industry has long held that lithium batteries in PEDs pose a fire danger, and that keeping such devices in the passenger cabin allows crewmembers to “act expeditiously” in case an emergency arises.
EASA recommended that passengers completely turn off their devices before placing them in checked baggage and effectively protect them from accidental activation by disabling alarms or pre-set configurations that might activate the device. It also recommends that operators protect checked baggage from damage “by applying suitable packaging or casing” or placing the device in a rigid bag protected by adequate cushioning such as clothing.