Samsung to speed up replacements of Galaxy Note 7 in US
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Friday it will expedite new shipments of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones starting this week in response to a US regulator’s advisory to not charge or turn on the phone in flight due to faulty batteries.
The South Korean manufacturer last week recalled the Note 7 in 10 markets including the United States, saying the phones’ batteries were prone to catch fire. The US Federal Aviation Administration late on Thursday said travellers should not charge the phones while in the air or stow them in checked luggage.
“We plan to expedite new shipments of Galaxy Note 7 starting from this week in order to alleviate any safety concerns and reduce any inconvenience for our customers,” Samsung said in a statement in response to the FAA advisory. Shares of the South Korean company fell 3.9% on Friday.
For months, pilots and plane makers have raised concerns about lithium-ion batteries, which are used in many consumer devices ranging from phones to laptops to toys. Top airlines banned hoverboards during the Christmas holiday season, and the UN’s aviation agency prohibited shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.
Several airlines said they are taking a closer look at the Samsung smartphones. American Airlines Group, the world’s largest carrier, said it was in touch with the FAA about the phones.
“We continue to review the FAA’s guidance and raise awareness with our employees and passengers about these devices,” said United Continental Holdings Inc spokesman Luke Punzenberger.
Other airlines including Singapore Airlines Ltd and Qantas Airways Ltd have banned travellers from powering up or charging the Galaxy Note 7 phones on flights, though they still can bring the smartphones on board.
Air France KLM SA said its flight attendants will instruct passengers not to use the phones at all during flight “in order to limit our exposure to this risk.”
Industry experts said such guidelines may be difficult to enforce because it was hard to distinguish the faulty Galaxy Note 7 from other smartphones.
“Can anybody tell that particular model of phone by sight?” said consultant Robert Mann, noting that flight crew will have trouble verifying if a customer has a faulty Note 7 or a replaced version.
“It’s going to set up a persistent issue over time,” he said.