FAA Bans ‘Dangerous’ MacBook Pros From U.S. Flights Over Fire Risk

Following Apple’s June recall for selected 15-inch MacBook Pro computers, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has now effectively banned those laptops from traveling on commercial flights. The restriction covers both carry-on and hold luggage. So if you haven’t returned one of the affected computers to Apple for the free battery replacement, don’t bother traveling with one to a U.S. airport.

According to Apple, the issue hits MacBook Pros (the 15-inch models with Retina displays) sold between September 2015 and February 2017, where products shipped with batteries that “may overheat and pose a safety risk.” Apple was concerned enough to advise customers to switch off the devices and leave them switched off until the fix had been carried out. The replacement is pretty inconvenient, and can take as long as two weeks.

If you have concerns head to the Apple support site and check the serial number.

According to Bloomberg, those same computers have also been banned from flying with Total Cargo Expertise (TUI Group Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, Air Italy, and Air Transat ), with a TCE notice to employees warning that “the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro laptop, sold between mid-2015 to February-2017 is prohibited on board any of our mandate carriers.”

For its part, the FAA is essentially simply enforcing an existing regulation that “prohibits air cargo shipments of lithium batteries and lithium battery powered devices when they are the subject of a safety recall or when the lithium battery has been identified by the manufacturer as having a safety defect. Passenger carriage of defective/recalled lithium batteries and devices with lithium batteries installed may also be restricted depending on the nature of the risk and the recall safety instructions.”

All very sensible, as well as highly impractical. The idea that TSA officers are going to become adept at quickly telling MacBook Pros apart during an already hasty security screening process will take some convincing. And what about all those TSA Pre passengers who leave laptops inside bags and expect an expedited security process? Maybe they’ll check the serial numbers of every MacBook traveling from a U.S. airport. Or maybe not.

And what the FAA does, others are sure to follow... there’s already similar warnings from Europe’s regulator over the recalled computers. One can expect such warnings to become prohibitions quickly.

While none of those recalled MacBook Pros have caught fire midair, yet, the fact is, if you have one of those laptops go and get it sorted. You’re putting yourself at risk, and now the FAA is telling you that others are being put at risk as well. Apple didn’t issue a recall notice for nothing.

This “ban” is making headlines, but it has been essentially in effect since the recall notice was issued. This is most likely a recognition that not enough people have taken that recall notice seriously and now they need to do exactly that.

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