Johannesburg - South African Airways (SAA) has banned the charging of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones on board all its aircraft effective from Saturday, amid battery explosion reports.
“South African Airways has taken a decision to prohibit the charging of Samsung Note 7 mobile phones on board all its aircraft," SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24.
"SAA will make appropriate announcements on board to remind passengers of this restriction and our crew has been briefed as well.
“This does not amount to an outright ban of the device on our flights. We trust that all our customers will cooperate fully and observe this request which the airline is making based on safety considerations for passengers and crew,” he added.
Tlali said that the decision will be effective as of Saturday September 10 until further notice.
Civil aviation authority, Comair respond
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has also taken note of recent reports of exploding Note 7 batteries and concerns raised regarding the device.
“Moreover, the SACAA has also noted the announcement by Samsung to stop the sales of the Galaxy Note7, and the company’s offer to replace similar devices already in customers’ possession,” SACAA said in a statement to Fin24.
“In light of these developments, the SACAA is currently and carefully looking into this matter and will take an appropriate decision in due course,” the statement read.
However, the SACAA said that the current regulations do not prohibit airlines and operators from introducing additional and appropriate measures that would enhance civil aviation safety and security.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Comair - which operates Kulula.com and British Airways flights in South Africa - said that the company’s aircraft were not fitted with power sockets, so they would not be affected by faults which have been encountered with the Samsung Note 7.
“It’s thus not necessary to ban the Samsung Note 7 from our flights," Martin Louw, Comair operations director, told Fin24.
"That said, we adhere precisely to the very specific procedures outlined by the Civil Aviation Authority and Boeing, including those procedures which involve electronic devices. The safety of our crew and passengers is always our foremost priority,” Louw said.
Comair said it had not yet received instructions from regulators on the use of power-banks and personal chargers. But if that changed, they would ensure adherence on board aircraft to any new instructions.
“As stated, the safety of our crew and passengers is always our foremost priority,” Louw said.
Samsung halts pre-orders
Samsung South Africa on Thursday put a stop all pre-orders of the Note 7 in the country, amid 35 cases of faulty devices as reported by the company.
Initial reports suggested that charging the device without the original charger led to the risk of exploding batteries.
The company also told Fin24 earlier that the availability date, which had initially been set as September 23, has also been postponed until further notice.
Meanwhile, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has this week joined four Australian airlines in banning usage of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on board flights.
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