airline safety
March 11, 2019

The Civil Aviation Administration of China, the country's aviation regulator, announced on Monday that it ordered all Chinese airlines to stop using Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts in the wake of Sunday's deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash.

Flight 302 was headed for Nairobi when it crashed shortly after taking off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa; all 157 passengers and crew members were killed. Chinese airlines have 96 737 MAX jets in service, Reuters reports, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China said it wants to speak with Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration before telling the airlines they can start flying the planes again.

The 737 MAX first went into service in 2017, and the Ethiopian Airlines plane was brand new, delivered in 2018. In November, a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing 189 people on board. The cause is still being investigated. Catherine Garcia

October 20, 2017

An aerosol can and a lithium-ion powered laptop could spell destruction for an airplane, The Associated Press reported Friday, citing a U.S. government report recently filed with the U.N. If a large lithium-ion battery powered device overheats near an aerosol can in a piece of checked luggage, the Federal Aviation Administration warned, an entire airplane could become engulfed in flames before in-flight staff could do anything to stop it.

The FAA placed an 8-ounce can of dry shampoo near a laptop with a lithium-ion battery and forced the laptop to overheat. In less than 40 seconds, the aerosol can exploded, a blast that could disable a fire suppression system aboard a plane. The FAA tried the same test with nail polish remover, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol, and each of those tests resulted in large fires — which could burn hot enough to cause aircraft aluminum to reach its melting point — but no explosions.

After 10 tests, the FAA sent the report to the U.N.'s aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Organization. That organization recommends aviation safety measures, but cannot force countries to adhere to them.

The FAA paper asks that airlines require passengers to get permission to pack lithium-ion battery-powered large devices in checked luggage. The report does not state whether any domestic rules about checked luggage will be altered as a result of the findings. Elianna Spitzer

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