The hazard posed by lithium batteries onboard aircraft isn’t a new problem. And it’s one that’s only growing through device proliferation. That’s why Aircare International has spent more than a decade addressing this challenge through aviation crew training and innovative safety products. Aircare is helping mitigate the risks travelers and operators face.
The recent incident with a Samsung Note 7 phone aboard a major U.S. airline highlights a fire danger that can occur within an aircraft cabin. Aircare provides product solutions and clear procedures to combat this danger. Many top international air carriers employ Aircare’s training methods, including Cathay Pacific, Emirates, EVA Air and Cargo Lux.
“These highly safety-conscious airlines are the early adopters of a solution to a problem that is only going to increase with time,” says Martin Hamilton, Vice President of Business Development for Aircare International. Airlines are able to install the Aircare equipment for less than $700 USD per aircraft. “Our solution is small, light-weight and inexpensive. It’s effective. Because of that, more airlines, including major domestic U.S. carriers, are reaching out to work with us.”
Lithium batteries are found in almost all portable electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and electronic cigarettes. A damaged battery, or one manufactured with defects, can go into thermal runaway. When this happens the batteries get hotter and hotter until they explode, sending the adjacent cells in the battery into thermal runaway as well. The result is a violent, dangerous chain reaction of high-temperature fire, debris and smoke.
To fight this hazard, Aircare promotes its products and a combination of procedures that align with Federal Aviation Administration and International Air Transport Association advisories.
“We instruct the crew members to take care of the thermal runaway first,” says Hamilton. “Use a halon extinguisher to knock down the flames, and an aqueous-based cooling agent called Firebane from a safe distance to stop thermal runaway. Firebane rapidly cools the device about 10 times quicker than water.
“After the thermal runaway is stopped, the crews use Aircare FireSock, a fire-proof bag, to safely stow the damaged device while the crew takes care of other duties associated with the emergency. This ensures that if the device goes back into thermal runaway, the heat and fire is contained.”
The risks onboard major carriers are likely to multiply with the proliferation of portable electronic devices.
“If you stop to think about all the devices with batteries that just one passenger is carrying today, compared to 15 years ago, it’s staggering,” says Hamilton. “Not only do we have laptops and our phones, but we have tablets, rechargeable chargers, headphones, gaming devices and electronic readers. In addition, the crews are carrying more devices used for operations, such as tablets, in-flight entertainment devices and point of purchase machines. The chances of a battery-related fire have grown exponentially.”
ABOUT AIRCARE INTERNATIONAL
Aircare International specializes in medical, safety and emergency-related training, services and products for business aviation. Aircare International products include Aircare FACTS® Training for crew member emergency procedures training; Aircare Crews® Staffing, providing a staffing solution for pilots and flight attendants; Aircare Access® Assistance, providing 24-7-365 tele-medical assistance and support services.