In view of the threat on international flights by terrorists who might try to use explosive devices concealed in laptops, the US Department of Homeland Security is discussing the issue with officials of the E.U in Brussels. The objective is to tune into the same frequency and arrive at a common platform to tackle the menace of security in flight.

What prompted the discussions?

New York Times reports that the discussions between Elaine C. Duke, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security and representatives of E.U countries became necessary after the E.U wanted to update their knowledge about new restrictions proposed by the U.S.

and the reasons for imposing such restrictions.

It is understood that clarifications were furnished by the U.S. on the relevant aspects and that the terrorists had plans to convert simple consumer devices into bombs. Therefore, there was a need to clamp a ban on carrying such devices in the cabins as cabin luggage. This sharing of information was confirmed by an official of the european union.

It may be recalled that the United States and Britain have already imposed restrictions on laptops and other such devices as cabin luggage for passengers traveling through airports in a number of Muslim countries.

The magnitude of the problem

There is no denying the fact that the safety of the aircraft and its passengers from terrorist threat must always be uppermost in the mind in view of several instances of terrorist attacks in the air.

However, considering the volume of traffic, introducing such ban on laptops might add to the complications for not just the airlines but also for the airports.

Statistics furnished by the International Air Transport Association, an industry group that represents more than 250 airlines, the number of passengers that left airports in Europe and headed for the United States was in the region of 30 million plus and around 3.5 million of them were those who arrived on flights that did not originate in Europe.

Practical aspects of laptop ban

Apart from the problems related to logistics, there are other practical aspects of putting laptops in the luggage hold because it might lead to theft of sensitive information stored on the laptops. Apart from that, there is a major risk of fire in the luggage hold from the accumulation of a large number of lithium-ion batteries in one place.

Such a threat cannot be overlooked as it has been made by none other than Alexandre de Juniac, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association. He has advised airlines against the concentration of devices powered by lithium batteries in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft.

In his opinion, the laptop is an integral part of today’s people on the move and imposing a flight ban on them could affect modern work culture. He feels that alternatives need to be explored instead of the ban proposed by Homeland Security and has suggested a few options that could be considered.