PETALING JAYA: Power banks are not allowed to be checked-in on commercial aircraft to avoid the risk of fire in the cargo section, said the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).
Addressing the confusion over whether to check-in or hand-carry power banks, the DCA said there had been a “known incident of fire break-out in the luggage area due to this battery”.
“So, we have to take preventive measures to avoid such incidents,” said a DCA spokesman in an email response to The Star.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), from a risk perspective, power banks are seen as a power source and therefore, no different from spare lithium batteries, which must be in carry-on baggage.
IATA cargo safety and standards assistant director David Brennan said the risk of checking in spare lithium batteries was greater than if the battery was installed in a device such as a tablet or laptop.
He pointed out that cabin crew had specific procedures when dealing with a fire involving lithium batteries.
Brennan said that while the aircraft cargo holds were fitted with a halon fire suppresthsion system, it was far better to have the cabin crew address the problem than having a potential fire in the cargo hold.
Several readers, who flew Malaysia Airlines to Bangkok recently, were told by ground handling staff that their power banks needed to be checked in.
MAS said its safety policy with regards to power banks was in carry-on baggage only.
“Our ground staff would usually ask passengers if they are checking in items such as power banks, and would inform them to carry these in their cabin baggage. There could be a misunderstanding there,” said a spokesman.
Similarly, AirAsia and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad confirmed that power banks were listed under cabin baggage item and not for check-in baggage.