The nation’s aviation safety regulator’s new restrictions on e-cigarettes follow the latest International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) technical instructions and come after a fire in the baggage compartment of a passenger jet in 2014 that was believed to have been caused by an electronic smoking device accidentally turning on while inside a bag.
“The reason for the restrictions is the risk of the devices inadvertently being activated in bags while in the baggage compartment of an aircraft,” CASA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“These electronic devices are powered by small lithium ion batteries which when activated in a confined space can overheat and result in a fire.
“Electronic smoking devices must not be placed in luggage which is being checked-in and carried in the baggage compartment of an aircraft.”
While e-cigarettes can be brought onto an aircraft as hand luggage, CASA noted airlines did not allow them to be used while on an aircraft.
CASA said passengers with spare batteries for their e-cigarettes were required prevent a short circuit by taping over the terminals, carrying them in their original packaging or in separate bags.
The question of lithium-ion batteries on board commercial aircraft has been prominent of late, with airlines such as Qantas, United, Virgin Australia and others choosing to no longer carry them as cargo on their flights.
Tests conducted by the US Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 found that an overheating battery could cause other batteries nearby to short circuit and also overheat, which turns into a chain reaction. That chain reaction also caused a buildup of explosive gasses. If that gas is ignited, the explosion was capable of blowing the door off a cargo container and result in a fire.
In 2014, lithium batteries topped CASA’s most dangerous goods list.