FAA Stops Just Short of Banning Samsung Galaxy Note7

Phone manufacturer says no one’s been hurt yet.

Samsung Galaxy Note7
The FAA has advised passengers "not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage."Samsung

The FAA last week decided it could not ignore the potential safety risks for owners of Samsung’s recently released Galaxy Note7 smartphones. Samsung has urged owners to return all of the 2.5 million Note7s in service because nearly three dozen of the devices have spontaneously burst into flame due to a problem with the phone’s lithium battery.

On Thursday, the FAA strongly “advised passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.” The advisory fell just short of an outright ban against bringing the devices on an aircraft, however.

A variety of national news sources have in the past few days reported confusion about the product recall itself because Samsung did not actually use the word recall in its communications with owners and the press. Sunday's New York Times, however, reported the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had issued a recall for the Samsung Note7s, an event that would normally trigger an outright ban by the FAA against carrying a Note7 aboard a civil aircraft in any form. Late Sunday, the CPSC told Flying the recall report was incorrect. "CPSC has not issued an official recall announcement. We are continuing to work on a voluntary and cooperative recall announcement with Samsung."

Aviators are being urged to consider the most conservative alternative to using the Note7 while Samsung sorts out the details of the battery problem. Samsung said it will exchange a Galaxy Note7 for a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge and will also replace any Note7 specific accessories with a refund of the price difference between devices. Customers may also wait until the problem is solved and then return their phones for a new Note7, although no date for a permanent solution has been announced. Samsung's offering affected customers a $25 gift card for the inconvenience the Note7 problem has caused.