GENEVA (Reuters) – "Smart suitcases" can carry mobile phones or be easy to find if they get lost, but unless they can remove their battery they run the risk of being shipped by the world's airlines.
The global IATA airline said it could issue industrial standards for new luggage soon, after some US airlines issued their own restrictions on smart bags, whose manufacturers include companies such as BlueSmart, Raden or Away.
These contain GPS tracking and can charge devices, weigh or be remotely blocked using mobile phones, but are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which the aviation industry considers a fire risk, especially in the hold of cargo.
"We hope guidelines will be issued this week," Nick Careen, IATA senior vice president of airports, passengers, cargo and security, told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday, when asked about the restrictions imposed by some airlines
U.S. operators based on American Airlines ( AAL.O ), Delta ( DAL.N ) and Alaska Airlines ( ALK.N ) said last week than from January. 15, 2018, would require that the battery be removed before allowing the bags to be on board.
Careen did not elaborate on any possible standards for the entire industry, but said he hoped others could quickly follow the example of US operators. UU
Away and Raden say on their websites that the batteries in their bags can be easily removed.
Bluesmart, which says that more than 65,000 of its suitcases are used around the world, says its batteries can not be removed, but that its products meet all safety standards and requirements.
He said he would hold meetings with airlines to try to ensure that their products are exempt from any restrictions.
Concerns about the risk of a lithium-ion battery fire were highlighted during the ban on electronics temporarily imposed earlier this year on some flights to the United States.
Information from Victoria Bryan; Edition by Alexander Smith and Louise Heavens