Personal Electronic Device (PED) Debate
Miscommunication Between Secretary of Homeland Security & IATA Director General
The below two articles quote the Secretary of Homeland Security and the IATA Director General evidence the famous line from Paul Newman’s Cool Hand Luke, in which this immortal line was uttered:
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
Both speakers basically make the same points:
- You don’t want laptops on board airplanes because terrorist may use them to blow up airplanes.
- You don’t want the ion batteries in the airplanes cargo bay because they have a tendency to combust, also with bad consequences.
Yet, the US Secretary and the International Airlines Association CEO seem to be mad at each other. Some of what General Kelly cannot say is highly classified and much of what is unsaid by Monsieur de Juniac is that the ban is costing his members money.
Their public disagreement is unfortunate. At a minimum, it encourages passengers to try to carry their laptops on the flights and at worst, it may minimize the degree to which the personnel who are assigned to interdict the large PEDs.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told a House of Representatives panel Wednesday that he is considering expanding the electronic-device ban to 71 additional international airports.
The devices aren’t allowed in cabins of flights originating in 10 airports, primarily in the Middle East. Kelly didn’t name the additional airports under consideration.
The restrictions stem from news reports that terrorists may be able to hide explosives in electronic devices but cannot detonate them remotely. The restrictions require passengers to store laptops and other electronics larger than a cellphone in their checked luggage in the cargo compartment.
During his testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Kelly said he was aware of the fire danger involving the batteries and hoped foreign airports would increase their screening techniques to avoid the need to expand the electronics ban.
“There’s a lot of talk out there that lithium batteries are dangerous in and of themselves, that they just burst into flames,” he said. “So we are also dealing with that as well.”
IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac noted that the industry trusts that valid intelligence underpinned the UK and U.S. decisions. However, he said, the measures themselves test the confidence of the industry and the public, confidence he said is critical for the success of any security regime. “The U.S. and UK have not aligned on airports that present a risk,” he said. “Questions over the safety of placing so many lithium battery devices in the baggage hold have not been answered. And the other Five Eyes nations—Canada, Australia and New Zealand—are mitigating the threat without a ban.”
He affirmed that airlines will never compromise on security, adding that taking electronic devices from passengers presents a real cost to them. IATA estimates that in the ban’s current scope, it will result in $180 million in lost productivity; if the ban expands to flights from Europe to the U.S., a plan U.S. authorities are considering, the price tag could surge to $1.2 billion.
“We are not in favour of bans, and we would like connectivity to be restored as soon as possible.” – de Juniac
Please get together and get on the same page.
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