DGCA may ban ‘new’ Samsung Note 7 too in flights

New Delhi, Oct 07:Samsung can’t catch a break. This time, a Southwest Airlines flight was evacuated when a passenger’s Galaxy Note 7 caught fire prior to takeoff two days ago.

Worryingly, the Southwest passenger claims the phone was a unit that was replaced by Samsung via the device’s recall.

India may reimpose restrictions on inflight carriage of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones following the recent instances.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had last Friday allowed Note 7s purchased after September 15 to be carried on board aircraft without the restrictions on ‘old’ Note 7 and 2, which require the latter to be carried only in hand bags in completely switched off mode and without being charged on flight.

However, the regulator’s rethink comes from a Galaxy Note 7, reportedly issued after the recall, burst into flames on a Southwest Airlines flight on Wednesday. The owner of this phone told authorities that he had purchased it on September 21.

The DGCA had last Friday lifted restrictions on inflight carriage of the ‘new’ Note 7 phone — the ones sold after September 15. It exempted the ‘new’ Note 7 from the earlier order banning flyers from carrying Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and 2 in check-in bags and from switching them on or charging in flight.

“We are in touch with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after the latest incident of a ‘new’ Note 7 catching fire on aircraft and are going to issue a fresh order for the Samsung Note 7. The FAA had in mid-September issued an advisory which, apart from saying that Note 7 be kept switched off and not be charged on planes, also advised that flyers must close all applications on these phones like alarm that may switch them on and have a physical protection for the power switch to prevent them from getting pressed inadvertently and then getting switched on. A new order will be issued next week and incorporate these things too,” said a senior DGCA official.

Samsung’s comment was sought on this development and it was yet to respond by the time of filing this story.

The DGCA is also not satisfied with Samsung’s distinction of saying that planes sold after September 15 are safe as it fears people may buy after that date but get phones made before that date. The embattled electronic giant had last week said: “Customers can identify the new Galaxy Note7 with the ‘green battery icon’. Devices displaying this visual icon are safe to charge and use during the flight. Samsung has not sold a single unit of Galaxy Note7 in India so far. The ‘green battery icon’ will apply to all Galaxy Note7 units that will be sold to customers in India when it is launched.” Samsung has recalled the old Note 7s.

The DGCA had on September 9, hours after the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), banned flyers from carrying Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in check-in bags. They were to taken only in hand bags and kept switched off during the entire duration of flights apart from not being charged on board.

Several aviation safety regulators globally and international airlines had imposed restrictions on carriage of Note 7 after some instances of this smartphone’s battery exploding and the phone catching fire.

The Indian DGCA had a fortnight back issued similar restrictions on carriage of Samsung Note 2 after one of these phones caught fire on a Singapore-Chennai flight of IndiGo.