Cayman Airways grounds hoverboards

Hoverboards, the controversial but popular Christmas gift, have been banned by Cayman Airways.

The ban, which became effective Monday, extends to all passenger carry-on and checked baggage, and to cargo shipments as well.

Cayman Airways joins many national airlines in banning hoverboards from flights because of the fire risk associated with the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in the products.

In the past month, hoverboards using lithium-ion batteries have exploded or caught fire, burning down or damaging homes in 10 states in the United States. One hoverboard spontaneously burst into flames at a mall in Auburn, Washington, last week.

Hoverboards, which are sold under a number of different names by different manufacturers, are self-balancing scooters. In addition to the fire risk caused by their batteries, the use of hoverboards has caused numerous injuries across the U.S.

Online retailer Amazon stopped sales of most hoverboards last week pending the findings of an investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are used extensively in modern electronic devices, including laptop computers, tablets, mobile phones and cameras. The technology is generally safe, but questions have arisen related to incorrect storage and defects in cheaply made lithium-ion batteries that are mostly manufactured in China, where the production is unregulated. The batteries have been implicated in at least two fatal airplane crashes – a UPS Airlines flight in Dubai in 2010 and an Asiana Airlines cargo plane that crashed into the Korea Strait in 2011.

In response to the fire hazard, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority issued restrictions on transporting lithium-ion batteries on aircraft, limiting the number of larger batteries that can be brought aboard and requiring loose spare batteries be protected from accidental activation or short circuit.