FAA can find laptop fire in the cargo space, could bring down aircraft

The FAA released new research shows that a laptop fire in the cargo hold of a plane can be more dangerous than was previously thought.


A single overheating laptop in checked luggage that bursts into flames on a plane can overwhelm the fire suppression system and possibly bring down the aircraft, according to disturbing new research.

Regulators believed that the flame-retardant gas is required in the aircraft cargo holds could knock down internal lithium battery to burn, Bloomberg News reported.

But tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration in the suppression of the systems may not of a battery in the fire that combines with other flammable substances such as gas, spray or cosmetics.


“That can lead to a problem that would collide with the plane,” Duane Pfund, international program coordinator at the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, told an aviation safety forum in Washington Wednesday.

The PHMSA regulates hazardous materials on aircraft, along with the FAA.

The research highlights the mounting risks of lithium batteries, which power everything from mobile phones to gaming devices. Bulk shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries are not allowed on passenger aircraft.

The FAA’s findings of last year prompted the government to urge the United Nations, the International civil aviation organization to call for a ban on electronic devices larger than a mobile phone in the checked luggage. That effort fell short, Pfund said.

A Ryanair aircraft was evacuated on the 31st of July after a passenger’s mobile phone caught fire in the cabin.


“One way or another, we have to deal with these hazards,” said Scott Schwartz, head of the dangerous goods program, Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilots union in North America.

The union is not an official position on the question of whether there should be a ban on lithium batteries in checked bags and is looking to higher education campaigns, so that passengers are less likely to have spare batteries and electronics in their checked items.

In June 2017, the US Homeland Security Department channelled and more electronics in the cargo holds to the middle of the make that items as small as a tablet computer can be used to hide bombs.

The agency stopped an imminent ban on the move of the devices in the cabins, but requires additional screening of electronics.


The FAA has not yet placed any new restrictions on what passengers can pack in checked luggage.

Last year, told airlines they must perform a safety study to determine what they need to do to reduce the risk of battery fires in cargo holds.

FAA tests showed that anti-fire halon gas in airline cargo areas would not extinguish lithium battery fires, but it will prevent the spread to adjacent materials.

However, aerosol cans exploded in the tests, even after they were immersed in the gas, the FAA found.

“There is the potential for the resulting event exceeds the capabilities of the aircraft to go with it,” the FAA said in a notice to the airlines.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post.

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