Twenty years have passed since a DC-9 operated by budget carrier ValuJet crashed into the Florida Everglades, taking the lives of 110 people. After months of investigation, the NTSB determined that an illegal shipment of uncapped oxygen generators (secured only by duct tape) fueled a cargo fire which included tires and other ValuJet company materials, and brought down the Atlanta-bound airliner shortly after takeoff from Miami International Airport on May 11, 1996. The NTSB never determined the ignition source that started the fire.
What took so long is an issue for another day, but the FAA has finally acted to keep electronic cigarettes and lithium ion batteries out of checked baggage. Why? No, it’s not because Americans will pack airplanes by the millions this Thanksgiving. It’s because e-cigs can catch fire.
Lasers are actually an old, but an alarmingly increasing, problem, particularly as the price of very powerful lasers has dropped to as low as $20 and they are readily available online and anonymously.