DHS to brief airline reps, lawmakers as laptop ban expansion is considered

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BEIJING, CHINA: Guests try out the wireless connection to the Internet on their laptops onboard US aerospace giant Boeing's latest aircraft 'Connexion', which allows passengers to connect on the Internet wireless while flying, at the Beijing Capital airport 21 September 2005. Boeing claimed that China will need more than 2,600 new planes worth 213 billion USD over the next 20 years, quadrupling its fleet to become the world's second largest aviation market. AFP PHOTO

WASHINGTON — Department of Homeland Security officials will speak with airline industry representatives on Thursday about the electronics ban on aircraft as the agency considers an expansion of a security measure, according to DHS and industry sources.

The discussion, the latest in a series of meetings that have been held, will include domestic and international airline industry officials, an airline industry source said.

In addition, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will head to the Hill on Thursday to speak with lawmakers about aviation security issues including consideration of expanding the ban, according to a homeland security official.

The DHS official stressed no decision is anticipated.

The meeting comes as DHS considers increasing the number of flights where large devices like laptops will be banned from carry-on luggage, due to increased terrorism concerns. Currently the ban is in place at 10 airports in 8 countries.

Officials have said recently that an expansion is “likely.”

“No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary,” the agency said in a statement.

Kelly told a congressional committee last month that the threat behind the ban is “real.”

“It’s real. I think it’s getting realer, so to speak,” Kelly said in early April. “We may take measures in the not-too-distant future to expand the number of airports.

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