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Gadget Ban in Airplane Cabins Increases Fire Risk, Officials Say

Europe’s aviation regulator voiced concern on Wednesday over the possible risk of fire breaking out in the cargo holds of passenger planes after the United States and Britain banned computers from passenger cabins and urged new precautions.

The European Aviation Safety Agency, which is responsible for safe flying in 32 countries, said personal electronic devices (PED) carried a fire risk due to their lithium batteries and should preferably be carried inside passenger cabins so that any problems could be identified and dealt with.

“When the carriage of PEDs in the cabin is not allowed, it leads to a significant increase of the number of PEDs in the cargo compartment. Certain precautions should therefore be observed to mitigate the risk of accidental fire in the cargo hold,” the agency said in a safety bulletin.

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The Cologne-based agency issued its guidance two weeks after the United States and Britain banned gadgets larger than a smartphone, including laptops and tablets, from passenger cabins on flights from certain countries because of security risks.