Airline passengers will be banned from using or charging their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phablets on planes, and will not be allowed to keep the devices in their check-in baggages.
The move follows a global recall of the device by Samsung following complaints that its batteries can catch fire.
In a first-of-its-kind order issued on Friday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asked flyers “not to turn on or charge Samsung Galaxy Note 7 mobile phone on board the aircraft.”
“In the light of recent incidents involving battery issue with Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices globally, travelling public and airlines are advised to ensure these safety measures,” read the order issued by DGCA chief BS Bhullar.
The DGCA’s order comes hours after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a similar directive .
The ban is likely to hurt Samsung’s brand image, experts said. “You make millions of dollars when you launch a new phone in the next few quarters, but a ban, especially by the US authorities, impacts both the brand and its sales,” said Harminder Sahni, founder of consulting firm Wazir Advisors.
Until last week, 35 cases of explosions involving Note 7 phones have been reported. It was the outcome of faulty manufacturing process at one of Samsung’s three battery suppliers.
It will take a couple of weeks to replace the 2.5 million Note 7 phones shipped so far, Samsung said. The company has agreed to replace all phones with faulty batteries with a new one .
A senior DGCA official said the notice is for the safety of aircraft operations and passengers on-board. “Airlines have also been advised to look in the matter.”
Airlines, including Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia, have banned the use of the device. Australian carriers have also banned the phones, even in switched-off state, from being plugged into flights’ USB ports.
In India, too, airline companies are evaluating the measures and would look into the DGCA’s notice, spokespersons of two airline companies said.
The Galaxy Note 7 is not yet available in India. A company spokesperson said people in India will get the new phones, but they will be sold after further due-diligence.
The DGCA, however, did not specify any action it would take if anyone is found using the Note 7 on-board.