August 3, 2018

A single overheated lithium battery could overpower an aircraft's fire suppression system

Bloomberg Quint

A single personal electronic device that overheats and catches fire in checked luggage on an airliner can overpower the aircraft’s fire suppression system, potentially creating a fire that could rage uncontrolled, according to new government research.

Regulators had thought that single lithium battery fires would be knocked down by the flame-retardant gas required in passenger airliner cargo holds. But tests conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration found the suppression systems can’t extinguish a battery fire that combines with other highly flammable material, such as the gas in an aerosol can or cosmetics commonly carried by travelers.

... The research highlights the growing risks of lithium batteries, which are increasingly used to power everything from mobile phones to gaming devices. Bulk shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries have been banned on passenger planes.

1 comment:

Boffin said...

It's worth a reminder that by law (49 CFR 175.10(a)(18)) lithium ion batteries must be carried as carry-on baggage only, in the passenger compartment.

This is so that any failures may be noticed and dealt with by crew.