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US laptops-on-planes ban now applies to just one airport, ends soon

Meanwhile the TSA found 78 guns at US airports last week, 32 with a round chambered

By Simon Sharwood, 18 Jul 2017

The United States' ban on laptops being carried into airliner cabins is all-but-over, after the nation's Transport Security Administration reduced its list of dodgy airports to just one and signalled that destination awaits inspection before also disappearing from its list.

The ban was imposed in March after the Administration (TSA) announced that “Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks” and implemented new “aviation security enhancements … requiring that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smart phone be placed in checked baggage at 10 airports where flights are departing for the United States.” All of the airports were in the Middle East, North Africa or Turkey.

The US has since outlined extra security checks that the ten airports are required to implement before the ban will be lifted. As of Monday, the TSA says just one airport remains on the list: King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Saudi Arabia's capital city Riyadh. And Reuters reports that TSA inspectors will visit it later this week to check that it has its enhanced security regime up and running.

The likely removal of the laptop ban from Riyadh-originating flights doesn't mean the end of the matter, as Reuters also reports that airports have a short amount of time in which to acquire explosive trace detection equipment and to start using to screen US-bound passengers. Airports that fail to do so could conceivably again see laptops sent into cargo holds.

While the US continues to target terrorist efforts to sneak bombs into computers, the TSA continues to find guns-a-plenty in carry-on-bags bound for domestic flights: for the week of July 3rd-9th the agency found 78 firearms, 62 of them loaded and 32 with a round chambered. For the week before it discovered 82, 73 of them loaded and 27 with a round chambered. And in May, the agency reported a record weekly haul of 82 firearms, pipping the previous “best” week by a single weapon. The upside: just 16 of the 82 had a round in the chamber. ®

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