All Samsung Electronics Co. Note 7 smartphones will be banned from airline flights by the U.S. government, according to a person familiar with the decision that will be a significant expansion of restrictions on the devices linked to almost 100 incidents of overheating and fires.
Flight restrictions will be extended to each of the 1.9 million Note 7s sold in the U.S. and the devices won’t be allowed aboard aircraft even if they’ve been shut off once the new rules take effect, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration will announce Friday.
Samsung on Tuesday said it was halting production and sales of the device following the latest spate of smoke, overheating and fire incidents in what was supposed to be a version that replaced a faulty lithium-ion battery with a safe one. The company estimates the crisis will cost it $5.3 billion in profits.
Airlines and an industry trade group were notified of the impending ban by the FAA on Friday, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to speak about the matter. The ban takes effect Saturday.
The action by aviation regulators follows the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s announcement on Thursday it was almost doubling the number of Note 7 phones covered under a government-sanctioned recall. The consumer agency has received 96 reports of overheating batteries in the U.S., including 23 since the first recall was announced on Sept. 15.
At least 13 people reported being burned by the devices and in 47 cases there was damage to property, according to the consumer agency.
Aviation regulators in September ordered passengers and airline crews to power off any recalled Note 7s that were carried aboard flights and forbid the devices from being charged. The Note 7s were also prohibited from checked bags.
The expanded action completely bans the devices from all airline flights and covers all smartphones covered by the latest recall.
FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., two major delivery services in the U.S., had already said they wouldn’t ship the phones via planes, restricting them to ground vehicles. The devices also have to be packed in special boxes designed to safely house recalled batteries.
Delta Air Lines Inc. is adding special containment bags for phones or other electronic devices that overheat or catch fire to at least some of its aircraft, the carrier said on a conference call Thursday. Southwest Airlines Co. is in the process of selecting a vendor for similar bags and hopes to have them on its planes in early 2016, spokeswoman Lori Crabtree said Friday.
Lithium-based batteries power millions of devices, from smartphones and laptops to power tools. They hold enough energy to create heat and sparks if they fail, which can ignite the highly flammable chemicals inside.
The initial wave of Note 7 failures were linked to batteries made by one of two suppliers to Samsung. The cells had been squeezed into a container pouch so tightly that when they were installed in the phones they became pinched, damaging the interior. That led to short circuits that triggered the failures, CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye said in September.
More recent incidents involving replacement phones containing batteries built by a second manufacturer appear to be the result of a different flaw, a person familiar with discussions between government agencies and Samsung told Bloomberg.