Update on the Use of Beacons on Aircraft

Last year we wrote about how Beacons might be classed as Personal Electronic Devices (PED) and how companies such as Samsonite were already using tracker beacons in some of their luggage. Since then, there have been some new airline baggage rules that have put some ‘smart’ baggage firms out of business.

The new rules focus more on the batteries than the use of (Bluetooth) wireless. Lithium-ion batteries pose a fire risk, especially when left unattended in the hold. In the US, smart cases are banned from the hold unless the batteries can be removed. The IATA has a paper (pdf) on smart baggage with integrated batteries.

The focus is on baggage (and hence batteries) in the hold. Devices need to be able to be deactivated and/or taken into the cabin rather than stored in the hold.

The CAA says:

“Lithium batteries are very safe, but because of their high energy, if they are not treated with care or if they are abused or have a manufacturing fault, they can catch fire”

The main risk is that baggage gets damaged which then affects the enclosed batteries.