US Aviation Regulator Bans Recalled MacBook Pro Model From Flights

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has banned the recalled MacBook Pro model from flights. You can carry the affected 15-inch MacBook Pro in flights only if its battery has been replaced or it is stored in special packaging that inhibits fires. If you happen to own the recalled MacBook Pro, you can’t take it as cargo or in carry-on baggage.

For the FAA, it’s a routine step to ban devices with recalled lithium-ion batteries from flights because they pose a fire risk. Apple told customers in June that it would recall select units of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which had faulty batteries. The US FAA said in a statement that it was “aware of the recalled batteries that are used in some Apple MacBook Pro laptops.”

The aviation regulator has reminded all major US airlines to follow 2016 safety instructions for devices with recalled batteries. Back in July, the regulator had reminded passengers that “recalled #batteries do not fly. Avoid carrying #recalled batteries when flying until repaired/replaced per manufacturer instructions.”

The FAA said in a statement that it has issued “reminders to continue to follow instructions about recalls outlined in the 2016 FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 16011, and provided information to the public on FAA’s Packsafe website:”

Many international airlines have also banned the recalled MacBook Pro model. Earlier this month, the European aviation regulator reminded airlines to follow the 2017 safety rules, which require devices with recalled batteries to be turned off and not used in flights, reports Bloomberg.

Four major airlines with cargo operations managed by Total Cargo Expertise this week barred the affected MacBook Pros from flying as cargo. The airlines that implemented the ban are Air Transat, TUI Group Airlines, Air Italy, and Thomas Cook Airlines. The airport staff and flight attendants will now make announcements at the gate and before takeoff about the recalled MacBook Pro models.

It’s unclear how many MacBook Pro models were affected by the recall. Citing a Canadian air safety notice, Bloomberg reports that 432,000 MacBook Pro units sold in the US were recalled. Another 26,000 affected units were sold in Canada. There are no estimates for Europe and other markets.

Apple said in June that it had “voluntarily decided to replace affected batteries, free of charge.” Customers are free to fly with their MacBooks once they get the batteries replaced. Apple has recalled MacBook Pros that “contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk.” The tech giant claims only a “limited number” of units were affected.

The laptops with faulty batteries were sold between September 2015 and February 2017. It’s the “Mid-2015” model of Retina MBP and you can find its specs here. If you purchased a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display between these dates, head over to Apple’s support website and enter your device’s serial number to see if your Mac is eligible for battery replacement.

If your older MacBook Pro is eligible for battery replacement, you have to send it to an Apple repair center to get the battery replaced. Fixing the issue could take up to two weeks, but thanks to the new battery, it could last longer than it was originally supposed to.

It will be difficult for regulators and airline employees to identify which MacBook Pro has a faulty battery and which one is good enough to be carried in flights. Only a “limited number” of MacBook Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017 have overheating batteries. The MacBooks Pros with safe and faulty batteries have the same design.

The MacBook Pro is not the only device that has been banned by regulators from flights due to faulty batteries. A few years ago, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone was banned by most major airlines across the globe after multiple incidents of its batteries exploding and catching fire. Samsung had to set up temporary stores at airports to get Galaxy Note 7 owners to exchange their phones with another Samsung phone.

Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly planning to launch a larger 16-inch MacBook Pro and a refreshed 12-inch MacBook later this year. According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the tech giant has been working on the 16-inch MacBook Pro for quite a while. Apple recently  registered as many as seven new MacBook models with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), suggesting the launch of new MacBooks is imminent.

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